30 Hudson Street, Manhattan
Jamie Graves '02 parlayed his Japanese language studies and experience with Oberlin's co-ops into a series of restaurant jobs in Japan. Back in the States, he found a position at one of the few restaurants outside of Japan that specializes in kaiseki—a seasonal cuisine that grew out of a tea ceremony into an elaborate, multi-course art. In late 2010 he joined the opening team of Brushstroke, the first high-profile restaurant to feature kaiseki cuisine exclusively. He is now its general manager.
TriBeCa 159 Duane Street, Brooklyn 589 Vanderbilt Avenue
Matthew Maddy '00 is a designer, builder, and sometimes owner of bars and restaurants, including three Weather Up bars— one in Brooklyn, one in TriBeCa, and one way, way, way downtown: in Austin, Texas. Maddy is also a partner with Tyler Kord in the No. 7 restaurants, and he designed and built a bar in Oakland, Calif. (also off-map), called Make Westing—after a Jack London story—which he started with Glenn Kaplan '99.
7 Greene Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Greenpoint 931 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn Ace Hotel 1188 Broadway Avenue, Manhattan The Plaza One West 59th Street, Manhattan
When Tyler Kord '00 opened No. 7 in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bon Appétit listed it among the top 10 new American restaurants of 2009. He has since created a New York empire of sandwich shops called No. 7 Sub scattered around the city, each eagerly anticipated and lauded by the New York food media. The cuisine has an East-meets-Eastern Europe sensibility, and the vibe is fine food in not-so-fussy settings. Kord is a partner with Matthew Maddy '00 (see Weather Up), and it's not uncommon to see other alumni helping out (Jared Glenn '07 is bar manager).
1155 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 311
Angela C. Davis '94 is the community food education program coordinator for this nonprofit that works to unite local farms and city residents of all economic backgrounds with fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food. She trains community members from diverse backgrounds to conduct cooking demonstrations focused on local and seasonal food at community-based farmers' markets, food pantries, and community events.
166 S. 4th Street (at Driggs), Brooklyn
New Yorker says Pies 'n' Thighs, whose owners include pastry chef Sarah Buck Sanneh '03, is "generally full of youngish Williamsburg types with beards and assertive eyewear." The stereotypes might wear thin but—with chicken, pie, fried pickles, and other southern comfort food on the menu—you won't. Tucked into a cozy spot in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, Pies sports mix-and-match tables and chairs and downhome decor that's just right for the slapdash neighborhood. The bourbon pecan pie is worth the trip across the bridge—or the country.
21 Provost Street, Brooklyn
Brad Dubé '90, founder and owner of this Greenpoint-based cheese importer and distributor, learned his trade by working in his parents' cheese shop throughout the 1990s, and he eventually took over the business. That's not to say Oberlin didn't influence his career path. "Interestingly," he says, "hearing Jerry Greenfield '73 (of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) speak at Oberlin about his approach to business management struck a chord with me." Food Matters Again supplies imported and artisanal American cheeses, along with an "impressive range of the world's best olives and top-notch charcuterie" to retailers and leading restaurants in the New York metropolitan area. Dubé expects continued growth for Food Matters Again, which has 10 employees in its newly renovated 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Greenpoint.
242 West 49th Street, Manhattan
Isabella Gambuto '09 recently took over Caffe Cielo—a Theater District Italian restaurant owned by her father for a quarter-century—changed its name, and moved it around the corner to an unsuspecting, narrow, street-level slot under the Hotel Mayfair. Gambuto knows exactly how to draw an Oberlin crowd (even to Midtown): a cheap beer pitcher promotion pinched from the 'Sco (aka the Disco in Wilder Hall) called "splitchers." With her boisterous personality, Gambuto keeps things lively behind the bar also, from where she manages a staff of many people she's known all her life—which explains Cielo's relaxed, chummy atmosphere.
248 West 14th Street, Manhattan
Matthew Isaacs '03 and three partners opened SNAP sports bar in the Chelsea neighborhood in 2010 after owning/operating a string of nightclubs in New York and Las Vegas. He also owns a small boutique nightclub next door called STASH, an after-midnight type place. With Yeoman sports being live-streamed over the Internet, will Isaacs start showing the games on SNAP's TV screens? He'd love to, he says, if there's a following. "We have the streaming capability; we just need the spectators."
674 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn
This Greenpoint bar owned by alumni Aaron Manheim '02 and Vivek Sreekumar '03 offers more than 50 kinds of whiskey and premium brews, including an organic ale, for just six bucks a pour—a bargain almost anywhere, but especially New York. This recent tweet from the bar says a bit about what sort of place it is: "right now: everyone having a great time, and one guy attempting to read Infinite Jest."
Sarah Frank '09 is a partner in this startup enterprise that provides fresh, affordable ingredients and easy meal strategies to low-access neighborhoods via a mobile, one-stop shop. The vision, says Frank, is to prevent and reduce obesity and related diseases by making cooking at home easier, more healthy, and more popular, "converting frozen pizza eaters to gourmet cooks in under 30 minutes." Frank pitched the project at LaunchU, an initiative of Oberlin's Creativity and Leadership program in which students, alumni, and other entrepreneurs connected to the college present new ideas to potential investors. Operations will begin in Central Harlem this year.
829 West 181st Street, Manhattan
The New York Times described this Washington Heights neighborhood restaurant, owned by Christopher Irish '01, as "a homey, full-flavored trattoria." Saggio features cuisine from southern Italy and is recommended in the 2013 Michelin guide.
In the next few months, we'll be charting all of the food-related enterprises in this issue on a web-based map so alumni can support other alumni in cities and towns across the country.