The dining room at 163 First Avenuein New York’s East Village is barely big enough to fit two people standing side by side. Any sunlight that hits the front of the cramped building is choked out before making its way through a tiny window that looks out onto the street. There was a time when all of this discomfort added to the allure of David Chang’s restaurant empire, when he used the space to launch lauded restaurants that still exist in some form today: his first restaurant, Noodle Bar, and later, Ko. For most of the years Chang occupied 163 First Avenue, it was nearly impossible to get into. The stiff stools lining the wooden chef’s counter did not have backs to lean on. Substitutions were frowned upon, snapping photographs was a no-no, and hearing chefs curse loudly as they plated dishes in the open kitchen made the whole ordeal feel very “朋克摇滚.” The cramped quarters and general stiffness weren’t addressed as much as considered part of the restaurant’s appeal.
电视正义和卡米尔Lindsley希望you to picture the restaurant bright and welcoming, with big front windows that flood with light, and colorful walls that make you feel warm and happy. They stand in the very same narrow East Village kitchen, holding paint panels up against the wall, envisioning the dining room as it will be when they open their restaurant here in April. The menu at HAGS will accommodate any number of substitutions and dietary restrictions. The chairs will be comfortable enough that you won’t be limping back into the night after a long dinner.Waiters will sit, relaxed at your table while they take an order, or pause in the rush of dinner service to try a new wine and catch up with a regular.
The concept at New York’s latest fine dining restaurant could not be further from that of the building’s past incarnations — or of pretty much any other upscale restaurant in New York, for that matter, but Justice and Lindsley share Chang’s desire to turn the concept of fine dining on its head. “We would have been so sad to just open another [restaurant],” Justice says. “But at the end of the day, we’re opening a little boutique, fine dining restaurant in Manhattan.” So what is HAGS, if not just another costly culinary experience in a cramped dining room? It is a space, as Lindsley and Justice see it (and hope you will, too) where queerness comes first, and all else comes second.
Telly Justice started her careeras an 18-year-old cook in vegan cafes and anarchist kitchens — the kind of places with poetry readings at night and a library’s worth of political manifestos in the dining rooms. She thrived in those environments, where she could “wear a dress to work and learn how to dice a tomato.” She was a fast study, and though she says she “didn’t have any life-sustaining skill [or] know how to cook anything,” she soon enough found herself ready for and craving a more technical culinary education.
But as Justice, now 34,去寻找一个她可以furthe的厨房r sharpen her skills, she bumped up against more than just difficult techniques. “I didn’t foresee that my trans identity was going to create a stumbling block to my success in the kitchen,” she says. “I didn’t have an awareness of kitchen culture at all. So in my mind, I was like,I am who I am. I love to cook. This is going to be great.” After a stint cooking in Atlanta, in 2011 Justice secured a job as a cook at a buzzy open kitchen restaurant in Philadelphia — with chefs essentially performing for a captive audience of diners sitting just feet away. “They offered me a job and I said, ‘You know, I’m trans and I use she/her pronouns.’ And I distinctly remember the chef on the other side of the phone said, ‘Well, not here. You’re not going to be out here.’”
Others might have hung up and looked for work elsewhere. Instead, Justice showed up the next day, knife roll in hand, an apron over her shoulder. “I got very angry and I settled into this place, like, ‘I’m going to be the best cook at this restaurant.’ And I kept pushing that field goal a little bit further everywhere I went. I became the best cook at that restaurant. And then I wanted to move to New York City and I wanted to work in Michelin-starred kitchens. I wanted to be the best cooks in those kitchens. And I never stopped being angry.” Justice went on to work the line at beloved New York restaurants including Contra, Wildair, and the now-closed Alder.She moved up the chain of command with ease, but not for a single moment did she feelcomfortable.
There was a dissonance to being in such grueling work environments, when Lindsley’s own relationship with food had always been so joyful. But restaurant work wasn’t all downside. “Telly and I met working at [my] first restaurant job, and Telly was well into her career. I had no idea how much of an accomplished chef she was.” Working together at Kimball House in Decatur, Georgia in 2015, they became inseparable. A few years later, before the pair made their way to New York, they worked together again at another Atlanta-area restaurant where Justice was chef de cuisine, and Lindsley was bar manager. “We realized that we wanted to do something creative together and cultivate a space. And we had gone through a couple of different ideas in our years together, both romantically and also working together.”
在大流行袭击之前，林德斯利（Lindsley）在阿尔多·索姆（Aldo Sohm）工作，葡萄酒吧与纽约三分之三的勒·伯纳丁（Le Bernardin）相连，并有望加入餐厅的侍酒师团队。正义在米其林星级的Contra及其分支Wildair的厨房之间分开了时间。但是随着病毒传播和餐饮业几乎在纽约市关闭，林德斯利和正义都发现自己失业了。他们失业的时间越长，要么就越难想象回到定义他们在款待中生活的现状。
这个问题的答案是巫婆。这家餐厅的名字是对“老黑格德女巫”的致敬，其大写既有承诺在其所所做的一切中都毫不歉意，又是一个愚蠢的首字母缩写，让人回想起一本老年的年鉴签名：Have A Great Summer!“As queers in this industry, we have barely survived by being quiet and invisible,” says Justice of the campy, head-scratcher name. “We had to resist that urge to be small and inoffensive with our first restaurant if it were ever going to be a meaningfully safe space.”
Justice and Lindsley always knew that when they opened their first restaurant, it would have some queer sensibilities, but until the pandemic, Justice says, “we didn’t imagine that it was going to lead with queerness, until we decided to center ourselves in our work. And then it was a no-brainer: This is going to be queer first, restaurant second. It has to be.” There are all sorts of blueprints for opening a new restaurant, but when it comes to distilling the spirit of queerness — and everything that means to Justice and Lindsley — into four walls and a kitchen, HAGS is in uncharted territory.
There’s a lot the couple know theydon’t希望他们的餐厅成为。在将大量生命献给厨房和款待之后，正义和林德斯利开始讨厌僵硬的高级餐厅迫使他们收缩的方式，餐馆声称唤起“晚餐聚会”的精神的方式，但经常是冷酷而正式的事务，严格的等级制度和猖ramp的虐待。当两人时launched a crowdfunding campaignto support the opening of their own “community driven tasting menu restaurant,” their description of HAGS barely sounded like a restaurant at all. “How often have you felt unseen, uncared-for, intimidated, or uninvited in a finer dining environment? At HAGS, we are on a quest to make you feel comfortable, celebrated and nourished AS YOU ARE,” reads the fundraising page. The campaign describes a restaurant that hosts after-hour parties “just ‘cause,” offers wall space to a rotating cast of artists to display their work, and encourages people to get up from their tables and dance if the music hits right.
随着巫婆的融合，这对夫妇关注食客进入室内时的感受。“I hope that people are like, ‘You know what, I’m going to bring my own fried chicken for the staff to eat,’” says Justice, of a kitchen culture where interactions between staff and customers go beyond turning out plates of food for strangers to eat. “I want to encourage people to make the space their dinner party, notour晚餐聚会。我们只是为了促进它。”在周日，将以滑动量表提供餐点，对于那些可能被排除在高级餐饮奢侈品之外的人。菜单将是灵活的，正义和林德斯利将欢迎几乎所有饮食限制的食客。每个晚上服务的食谱将在网上共享，或者打印出来，并藏在快乐客人的口袋里，回到东村的喧嚣中。工作人员也会感到舒适，当他们接受订单时坐下，随着音乐在扬声器系统的刺激时，他们在饭厅里跳舞。在这个行业中，韧性和通过不适和疲惫的艰苦工作能力仍被视为积极属性，prioritizing the emotional and physical comfort of kitchen and front-of-house workers本身就是一个激进的想法。
If all of this sounds more like a chaotic, jubilant celebration than a fine dining restaurant, that’s exactly what Justice and Lindsley are going for. HAGS is set to be less tasting counter, more queer potluck, orchestrated by a gaggle of friends and lovers, artists and cooks.
Where some new restaurants might turn to iconic chefs or restaurants of the past for inspiration, the potlucks that shaped so much of both Lindsley and Justice’s lives as young queer people are the closest thing to a North Star that they have. “In some ways potlucks, in our experience, were these moments for queer elders to show queer babies in the community: ‘This is what the community looks like. This is what the community does. We are here to nourish ourselves. We’re here to share skills. We’re here to have a good time because queerness doesn’t have to be about suffering,’” says Justice. “We just kept coming back to this memory of being 20 years old, and the vulnerability of cooking something that means something to you, for people that you love.”
These events may have revolved around food, but they were rarely关于food. “The potluck was always about just grabbing what you’ve got in the kitchen, turning it into some kind of mush, it can be delicious, it can be shit, we can throw it into the trash and totally ignore that it happened,” says Justice, “but we’re going to come together and we’re going to talk and we’re going to gossip and we’re going to lift each other up and we’re going to cry and we’re going to lip sync Cher, and it’s going to be transformative.” Of course, there are limits to how much a restaurant can feel like a potluck or a dinner party. But as the pair remake 163 First Avenue, the ethos of the queer potluck, in particular, is driving more than any specific culinary point of view. It’s shaping how they dream of a restaurant where queerness comes first.
In a recent Instagram Q&A——正义和Lindsley主机最周they prepare to open — they received a version of the same question that they’ve been asked over and over: What will be on the menu at HAGS? It’s a simple question, one most restaurateurs would be happy to answer. But the question feels antithetical to what the couple want HAGS to be: Food将要对巫婆的工作是核心，但是使那些奇怪的波特拉克感到如此自由和接受的同样的不诚意将是每种晚餐服务的核心。
Even when pressed by the most persistent journalist, the couple is hesitant to offer dish descriptions. Instead, Justice and Lindsley bubble over with excitement as they describe a menu constantly evolving in response not just to the seasons, but to the wants and needs of customers, and the energy of the staff. That means dinner offerings could change any given night, when a party is gluten free, or completely sober, or has three children that won’t stop crying and think the fish course looksgross.“You can make somebody’s life better with food,” says Justice. “You can have somebody come in, sit down, eat your food, and leave feeling phenomenal. That’s what food is supposed to do.”
The best way to understand what kind就像关于餐厅的很多东西一样，食物巫婆的服务也被包裹在酷儿中。正义说：“我的身份是生活在这个世界上的世界，使我朝着需要质疑并调查厨房中所有有教条的信念。”“在某人可能会自动烧烤的地方，我想质疑它是否会更'我''''，慢慢煮东西，慢慢煮东西。如果我放慢了工作的速度，该怎么办？”
当她和林德斯利（Lindsley）开始聘请餐厅的员工时，正义正在考虑如何将这种烹饪理念传达给其他厨师，因为她教他们做每道菜。“这些事情对我来说很重要，我愿意对任何人进行教育，但是从已经是这种心态的人开始，甚至可能会挑战我进一步挑战，这要容易得多。”第二部分 - 寻找了解酷儿经历及其与食物的经历的同伴和前任员工 - 需要时间，关怀和耐心。
有一个区别，正义和林德斯利在开始寻找员工时注意到，在雇用酷儿人的企业之间，以及那些本质上感到奇怪的人。作为queer restauranthasgained prominencein the last few years, there’s been a surge of new restaurants where queer cooks and waitstaff take center stage, where the music is strange and eclectic and undeniably gay; where, perhaps, glowing disco balls turn lazily overhead. And while all of those choices can create a beautiful, energetic experience, and one that reads as unquestionably queer, Justice and Lindsley believe restaurants have to do more.
“The queer restaurant community has just exploded in the past year. And I think that that’s fantastic,” says Justice. But while she’s noticed plenty of queer-led restaurants working hard to staff their teams with talented queer people, she’s seen less energy dedicated “to really com[ing] together to figure out what our practices are, what our bylaws are, how we’re going to take care of our community with our space, and what it looks like to uplift each other when we can’t hire everybody.”
In short, how can a queer restaurant be more than just another buzzy place to eat or drink? How can a queer restaurant serve to improve the lives of its diners andits staff alike?
当他们为餐厅铺设蓝图时，他们还制定了计划不太具体的结构的计划。对于Lindsley和Justice而言，Open Hags同样在为新业务创造一条途径 -非-restaurant, if you will — as it is about serving excellent food and packing the house each night. That means ensuring that, while there aren’t a lot of other restaurants that model themselves after queer potlucks, or refuse to share their menus before opening, HAGS doesn’t remain one-of-a-kind for long. “We shouldn’t be the first [of any kind of restaurant],” says Lindsley. “We don’t want to be the only one. So we’re going to give as much information to everybody as possible, so that other folks can do what they will with it, maybe even open their own restaurant.”
Justin J Weeis a Brooklyn-based photographer, and needs his fries to be crispy.