Sweetiepies Bring Beverly Hills to Village

Mr. Janklow has been in the West Village neighborhood since he graduated Dalton. He did two years at Wesleyan University but was commuting the whole time. He decided to pursue music, dropped out, and set off on a decade-long road trip—a small apartment on Fourth Avenue served as home base. He could never come up with a good band name. Darlahood was the one that stuck longest. Toward the end of it, he crossed paths with Julie Daniels, the zany, hippy-chic brunette from Beverly Hills he’d met a decade earlier. Turned out she’d become a rocker, too; they shared a publicist in common.

Before long they were another happily married pair of retired rockers in the West Village and the parents of a bouncing boy, August, now 6. They purchased a $4.5 million townhouse on West 12th Street from André Balazs and ex-wife Katie Ford. Mrs. Janklow began renovations. 

Mr. Janklow, meanwhile, had discovered a talent for lit-agent-ing. “People always ask me if I read a lot and it’s like, ‘You know what? I read a lot, but I don’t read that much, because it’s like, if you’re in a car and you’re listening to the radio, how long do you give a song you haven’t heard before, before you flip the station?’” he said. “I know in about two seconds if something is good or not. And I’ve never been wrong so far.” In ’07, Gawker voted Mr. Janklow the hottest straight man in book publishing. A little while before that, he got HarperCollins to pony up $1 million for Anderson Cooper’s memoirs. 

Mr. and Mrs. Janklow soon concluded there was no cool restaurant in the West Village where you could bring your kid, even their beloved Waverly Inn. In particular, Mrs. Janklow had in mind the places her parents used to take her growing up in Beverly Hills. The sophisticated yet pedestrian, slightly theatrical restaurants, which are unique to Hollywood and function not only as an extension of the industry but also a local haunt where a kid can delight in the glinty surroundings and a grilled cheese and Mommy can feel glamorous sipping vodka.

“I realized that there was no place to go for Easter or Mother’s Day or just for a day out; there was no place to go with my son,” she said, between puffs of a cigarette on a recent afternoon in the back room of Sweetiepie, where a mural of Mrs. Janklow’s own design festoons the wall. A Star Wars storm trooper here; a zebra on the hood of a hot rod there. Mrs. Janklow had her dark hair parted Joan Baez–style, and wore all black, a black faux fur coat on top. “It just got me thinking that when I was a kid, growing up in Beverly Hills we had those places—and they weren’t places like kids’ restaurants, they were just places that were theatrical because back then most of the restaurants were done by set designers. So you’d go to the Luau and you were in a Polynesian village, not some cheesy low-budget place—it was actually done by the real deal. Or you would go to Trader Vic’s or Chasen’s and it was glamorous. And as a kid you went into this sophisticated setting that was also childlike.”

They got the space on Greenwich Avenue about a year ago. Getting things just right has added some miles onto Mr. Janklow’s Vespa.

“I joke with Julie that she’s the director and I’m the producer of this place,” said Mr. Janklow, who seems to have wisely chosen to focus on the food.

In the last month or so, the couple has filled up Sweetiepie with numerous private parties—Ralph Lauren hosted a tea; the model Tamzin Greenhill had her baby shower there; most recently Lucy Sykes held her 39th birthday in the back room.

“There is a slightly nostalgic quality, a childlike quality to it, but it also has an adult decadency about it,” said Mrs. Sykes’ husband, Euan Rellie, noting that while the women ate salads, he enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs. “People drank quite a lot, which is always a good sign.”

“If we had our dreams come true, it would be a place that would be thought of alongside Leo’s Coffee Shop on Madison Avenue,” said Mr. Janklow. “With the black smoked glass windows and tablecloths and waiters in bow ties, and Mrs. Astor having a tuna sandwich with her girlfriend for four hours and talking.”

He added that once things were established, Sweetiepie has great potential as a brand.

smorgan@observer.com

Comments

  1. Deetta Witters says:

    Great blog! Sorry to change the subject, but, since Nashville is a big up and coming city, I’m looking for a great Nashville sushi restaurant or Japanese restaurant. Have you seen any recent buzz? There’s a new one called Nomzilla Sushi Et Cetera, but very few reviews. Here’s the address of this new Nashville Sushi Restaurant, 1201 Villa Place #101 Nashville, TN 37212 – (615) 268-1424. Thoughts? Thanks!