The Flower Shop Trades Nightlife Pretense For Cheeky Nostalgia
Hospitality veterans Dylan Hales and Ronnie Flynn skip the trends with their cozy and retro Lower East Side pub
Often in New York the best a new restaurant can hope for is a fleeting glimmer of relevance before the crowds move on. Leave it to two hospitality veterans to use their combined experience to avoid the same pitfalls that plague venues that are stuck paying the same high rents months after they hit their ‘moment.’ Dylan Hales and Ronnie Flynn have a keen awareness of the industry, and with The Flower Shop they’re betting that simplicity in comfort is key to longevity. A month in and the crowds might be indicative of a trend, but the founders know precisely how to keep people coming back.
“It’s been a trip to be honest. I feel like we only just came up for air…. and sleep,” says Flynn, and he isn’t exaggerating. Word of the restaurant got out almost a year ago, and between the duo’s deep list of contacts, anticipation had been building. “We started the project in September 2015. It was a huge undertaking especially with converting the downstairs from a storage facility to a legally occupiable and functional space,” describes Hales whose background includes Ruby’s, Kingswood, and The Randolph. “We had a blank canvas and spent all day everyday spit balling ideas and frankly obsessing over every detail. I think you can see and feel that in the space.”
Though Hales and Flynn have worked together before—they’ve known each other since high school—the space is the most personal project either has ever taken on. They’ve collaborated with friends on various aspects of the place (including a large mural from AHL friend Anouk Colantoni), and even have photos of their families on the ‘couples wall.’ “I have had a mood board going for many many years before The Flower Shop became a reality. So yea, I wear this place in my sleeve for sure, wanted people to feel like they are in our home,” says Flynn.
“We had stories about the old florist or flower shop being the unofficial town hall in small towns. A place where you could get all the gossip,” Flynn explains about the name. “We like the idea that a flower shop is a social hub. A mini town hall,” adds Hales. For large groups, the restaurant has served as a precursor to a night out, while the homey basement lounge has been a destination in itself. Despite a background at some of the best clubs in the city like The Jane Ballroom and Never Never, Flynn wanted to bring a different vibe to the Flower Shop basement. “I have always wanted to create my own version of ‘Cheers.’ A place where everyone is equal, a place where everyone leaves there ego at the door. I had a lot of fun in the nightclub world, but Im at a point in my life where I want a place to be able to have a conversation, a good meal and a cold beer with friends and strangers. Simple.”
Anyone who has been to The Flower Shop can likely describe the design as well as Hales, who fires off a list of influences that are abundantly clear once you step in: “1970’s midwestern taverns, nostalgia, cheeky, fun, surprise, Elvis Presley’s house,” and a befitting description several guests have already echoed, “your cool uncle’s basement.” The ’70s is equally apt, and vestiges of the era are intact at every corner: plush carpets, wood panels, mid-century leather furniture, and vintage decorations adorn both floors. “If you stay in that room for long enough you will notice that it’s been designed as if its been handed down through a few generations and eras. Something that spikes a fond memory and acts as escape from the chaos of NYC as well as the time zone,” says Flynn. Hales continues, “I think its an ode to simpler times and a trip down memory lane for our generation. We want people to feel at ease and at home when they walk into the space. Like you can kick your heels off and put your feet up. Figuratively not literally.”
For now escapism is something everyone needs at the end of the day, and The Flower Shop has been the perfect respite. “Hospitality in my number one love so it’s a huge thrill to have friends and strangers enjoying the space,” says Hales sincerely. There might be a huge crowd seeking to party at a quirky new LES space with an array of cool kids and fashion types. But long after the novelty wears off, guests are still left with a place infused with the personality of two industry guys who want nothing more than to have a good night with friends.
The Flower Shop, 107 Eldridge St