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Sweetiepie Restaurant: An Interview With Julie Janklow


Sweetiepie Restaurant: An Interview With Julie Janklow

by Evan Orensten
on 15 September 2008

I met Luke and Julie Janklow ten years ago when we all moved into the same apartment building in TriBeCa. They invited us to check out their latest venture, Sweetiepie, a new restaurant opening up in New York City's West Village later this fall. It will seat around 80 people in two rooms, one of which can be used for parties. It is glamorous with its marble floors and mirrored walls and ceilings, over-the-top in its detail and festiveness, yet at the same time very casual and comforting.

Julie is a perfectionist and has an incredible sense of style. She's been working on the project for about two years. I've seen the sketches, the special things she's been collecting obsessively, and sampled a lot of recipes. She took the time to sit down and share a little bit about her vision and why she thinks people want to eat in a giant birdcage that seats six.


CH: This is your first restaurant. What influenced you to create one?

Julie Janklow: The lack of a magical space in my neighborhood to take my son August to. I’m big on celebrating and we could never find a space with the atmosphere and food that suited us. In my mind I always imagined NY to have such a place. When I was a child NYC did—Rumpelmeyers was one of them. Of course we always go to Tavern on the Green (Luke’s uncle Warner created Tavern and now his cousin Jenny runs it). That’s the only magical spot I can think of.

CH: Why the name Sweetiepie?

Julie Janklow: You can call just about anyone Sweetiepie and it fits. Young or old or otherwise, Sweetiepie is for everyone.

CH: What kind of food are you going to serve? What inspired you to make those choices?

Julie Janklow: Sweetiepie is inspired by the restaurants of the past, many of them in California [ed: Julie grew up in LA]. The Fountain Coffee Shop in the Beverly Hills Hotel is one of them. Shwabbs, Walters Coffee Shop, etc. We’ll have entrée salads galore, a cup of soup and half a tuna sandwich. I always loved ordering that. Baked potato and steak, spaghetti and meatballs, caviar, pancakes for dinner. And of course our Marie Antoinette palette of desserts, including the “Sweetiepig” which is a giant (I dare you to eat the entire thing) sundae made for six people or one if you can possibly endure the aftermath.


CH: How would you describe the restaurant? The space? The table settings?

Julie Janklow: Very Sweetiepie. [ed: Detail from one of the murals, right]

CH: You have a very unique style. What influences you?

Julie Janklow: Movie sets inspire me the most. I’m a HUGE fan of classic American movies. I will watch a movie or a scene over and over again just to see the edge of a table or a piece of the carpet. I’m obsessed with TMC. The past inspires me the most. I have this fantasy that life was so much better in the olden days. The light was different. In a way the light was different because we didn’t have so many buildings blocking the sky!

CH: What's this about a giant birdcage?

Julie Janklow: Yes, it’s true. A bit of wacky chic never hurt anyone. I thought it might be fun to dine inside a giant birdcage because once in a while...

Is it true that you are partnering with Mario Battali? Is anyone else involved?

Julie Janklow: Mario is helping guide me along as I have never opened a restaurant before. He has been kind enough to consult and charm.

CH: What role will you play in the restaurant? Will you host or work the room?

Julie Janklow: I’m not sure how it will turn out as I’m so new at this. It seems to me I will be there quite a bit making sure everyone is happy and that the loos are spotless! That kind of thing...

CH: Luke, your uncle was a pretty famous New York restauranteur. Did your experience growing up with Tavern on the Green or The Russian Tea Room teach you anything about the restaurant business or inspire you in any way?

Luke Janklow: My uncle Warner had an amazingly cheery quality to him. Everyone was was "the greatest!" and every interesting dish or object was "the greatest!" He was a Willy Wonka-style host and he always thought of his restaurants as movies—grand movies where he was the director and everyone else were participants/actors. He was the ringmaster and that was very inspiring.

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