3.11.20 / New York / New York

Little Ways Brings The Flower Shop’s Carefree Energy to a Soho Restaurant

Mastering the go-to neighborhood spot

When The Flower Shop opened just under 3 years ago, it was an instant hit, reinvigorating a stale Lower East Side scene with a diverse crowd, an open arms approach, and an irresistibly homey ’70s vibe. In a city where nightlife tends to measure its life in weeks rather than years, who would have guessed that three years later it would still be host to fashion parties, and attract a crowd? For anyone who has met Dylan Hales and Ronnie Flynn, it’s no surprise at all. The duo have largely found their success because of their own buoyant energy which proliferates across the venue, the staff, the guests—and now an entirely new restaurant: Little Ways.

Located on West Broadway in Soho, Little Ways—just a ‘little ways’ down the street from The Flower Shop—follows Flynn and Hales’ unmistakable ability to build a community, this time in a more elegant restaurant befitting the neighborhood. As a luxury commerce capital with a bohemian edge, Soho is vastly different than the Lower East Side—including a lack of strong food options—which brought about its own opportunities. “It’s still an interesting challenge, in general,” Flynn says, knowing that most of their hospitality neighbors have already shaped the DNA of Soho. “It feels a little bit like…all of these places have been here for a long time and they’ve got that institution recognition.”

Instead, the team evolved their existing concept: build a place more accessible and more comfortable than what exists in its surroundings. “It could be said that Little Ways is the Flower Shop equivalent for this neighborhood,” Hales considers. “It’s definitely something we wanted to achieve, in some ways, even to appease our own friends and clients that love The Flower Shop but won’t go there because it’s either too far, or the crowd might be a little bit too young for them, or it might not have a sophisticated enough wine list, or whatever the reason might be.” Inside is still a bi-level space (while its predecessor had a basement bar, here there’s a second floor lounge complete with a skylight) which even references the same late ’70s early ’80s era, though at Little Ways it’s more akin to an artists loft in appearance, harkening back to the heyday of Soho’s cultural revival.

What has changed, however, is mostly on the ground floor restaurant. Where The Flower Shop maintained a hearty pub feel throughout, Little Ways is a restaurant first, and chef (and restaurant partner) Michael Hamilton aimed for a more expansive and ambitious rotating menu. “It will constantly evolve,” Hales says about the menu. “They’re such boring words to use when talking about food, but seasonality and quality of produce are the two things we are completely and utterly obsessed with.” Much of the produce is sourced from Bhumi farms in Amagansett, where the team owns a plot, encouraging seasonal modification of dishes based on whatever is available.

All of that being said, there has been a scene forming on the second floor, and where the selection of wines (mostly natural) in the restaurant below plays nice with the bucatini or the rib eye frites, the plush velvet seating and dim lighting invites a cocktail or two at the lounge. Drinks like the Poached Pear and Golden Hour feature ingredients like a ginger & pear shrub, and a beet-infused mezcal, respectively, and there’s even a collaboration with House of Waris Botanicals for a tea-infused gin with passionfruit and vanilla (“I’m pretty excited about the House of Waris collaboration,” exclaims Hales. “Their mission statement, our two brands, the people involved, in general it’s a really good match.”)

The early success of the Little Ways furthers the notion that Flynn and Hales have mastered the art of the neighborhood spot, not unlike Keith McNally did in the ’80s. The team have figured out how to draw in a crowd with good design, hearty food, and most importantly, the prospect of running into a friend at any given moment—even if that friend is just one of the owners. “We’ve been here a long time,” Flynn says. “We’ve both been in hospitality a long time, and there’s a social element that comes with that. And we’ve got a really nice wide diverse group of friends that we know love and trust, and hopefully love and trust us back, and I think that is really where it starts and end. People know they’re going to come here and see a friendly face.”

This is what drives Hales and Flynn’s approach to hospitality, and as simple as it sounds, it’s just as simple for restaurateurs to forget what really matters most to customers. For Flynn, it’s always been about recreating that feeling: “In New York everyone lives in these little apartments, and everyone is a little closed off, I mean how often do you visit people in their homes? You really don’t. We want people to feel like they’re in our apartment.” After all this time, that welcoming energy is why people still return to The Flower Shop, and why Little Ways already feels like home.

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