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Profiles: All You'd Ever Want to Know about Taavo Somer

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NYMag's epic piece on Freeman's and Rusty Knot owner Taavo Somer came out this morning. We're posting about it now because...well, because it took us all day to get through it. Thesis: the thing is ridick (choice sentence: "Somer, 35, is widely called Taavo even by people who’ve never met him.") If you don't feel like wading through the whole thing yourself, we've pulled out some choice quotes:

Somer's aesthetic: "Somer's aesthetic is different, built around the idea that rougher edges and cheaper materials can have an unexpected power if carefully arranged...Somer is drawn to contradictions—a T-shirt at a department store!"

The Paradox of Freeman's: "Eating at Freemans is not cheap—dinner for two can easily run to $100—but it feels cheap, which to a certain kind of New Yorker is an even better, guilt-assuaging deal."

Love/Hate relationship with hipsters: "'He's going to hate me for saying this, but he's kind of become the patron saint of hipsters,' says MacPherson. 'They follow him, and he rejects it. The more he rejects it, the more he becomes it.'"

Taavo's beloved objects: "He found himself spending a lot of time at Cafe Gitane, a bistro on Mott Street, where he developed an intense relationship with its electric oven...'I would go there just to drink coffee and kind of study it,' says Somer. '...I would count how many covers it was doing, I would calculate how much money they were making, and somewhere in there I put together a business plan for this fictional restaurant."

On alleyways: "Somer had never known New York to have any alleys, and when he saw the space his imagination took flight. 'I immediately started thinking about the Founding Fathers, about the 1700s and early 1800s,' he says. 'I saw this masculine, sort of mid-1700s guy, but someone who you’d want to go on a road trip with, you know?'"

Why people think trust fund kids run Freeman's: "'People walk into Freemans and assume we must be a bunch of rich kids goofing off,' he says. 'Either that or they think it's a total sham, like there's a Fortune 500 company behind us, some guys in Alexandria, Virginia, who analyzed what the 'cool kids' want and hired us to do it. I mean, that's the case with a lot of places.'"

On Ken Friedman: "'I just started imagining Ken as, like, a World War II vet. He was in the Navy, stationed in Polynesia. He loves girls. He loves motorcycles. He loves drinks with umbrellas. He loves hanging out with his buddies. He loves sunsets. So he gets back from the war and decides to open up a bar and doesn't really care about anything except that it's close to the water. Boom—the Rusty Knot.'"

Initial roadblocks at the Knot: "The landlord had long been concerned about the project—a dive bar, for yuppies?—and was especially sensitive about how his residents would deal with a kitchen. ('Just understand that Gisele, the supermodel, lives in my penthouse,' he liked to point out.)"

On the scene at the Rusty Knot: "When he designs a space, he thinks about creating an environment that he would want to spend time in, a setting he would return to, yet at the moment the Rusty Knot is the opposite of such a place. 'I don't know any of these people. They're all Ken's friends.'"

· Coolhunted [~E~]
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Rusty Knot

425 West Street, New York, NY 10014 Visit Website

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