Two Birds, One Store


With every Tom, Dick and Harry’s resumés reading more like circus acts than professions these days (really, who isn’t a waiter/actor/photographer/culinary blogger/“influencer?”), we guess it was only a matter of time before up-and-coming businesses started multi-tasking in much the same way— because why limit yourself to selling coffee when you can sell clothing, offer massages and make pottery too, ya’ know? Tucked away in New York’s Lower East Side, here are two stellar shops doing just that…

My husband and I were looking to get massages one day when we realized that there was really nothing out there in terms of an approachable, relaxation space. Everything was either super high-end or fast and low-end, but there wasn’t anything in between— especially anything that appealed to us from an aesthetic standpoint,” explains Cyndi Ramirez, co-owner of Chillhouse, the L.E.S.’s new all-day café/nail salon/massage spa. “We envisioned a space that allowed for relaxation without “preaching” it in an intimidating way. There’s something here for everybody, whether you come in for your daily cup of joe, your monthly nail art or an impromptu massage.”

Indeed, outfitted in marble, brass and fresh greenery, the bright space is anything but intimidating; in fact, it’s spirited, cheerful and organically at-ease. Focused on healthful living, the front café boasts candy-colored drinks like the “Beet-Chata” and the turmeric-spiked “Ube-Bey Golden” as well as gluten-free baked goods including chocolate-banana bread and Ra Bliss balls (Psst, there’s also wine and beer for those who prefer to take the edge off this way). Just behind the counter, Chillhouse’s nail program touts a similar healthful message, utilizing nontoxic-only polishes from brands like JIN Soon, Smith & Cult and Base Coat. The salon’s offerings are grounded in a highly-curated menu of “signature nail looks”— from Matisse-inspired squiggles to minimalist solo arcs— and the best part? Ranging from $35-$55, the designs are uniquely affordable. Massages are given in the back, with most aiding specific ailments like the athlete-targeted “Stretch Armstrong” and the temple work-heavy “Hangover Cure.” Ramirez tells us a membership program is in the cards for the future which makes us wonder, why ever leave? (MAP IT)

Calling itself, “an artisanal café/boutique/lifestyle brand,” L’estudio is the brainchild of chef/artist duo, Alejandro Alcocer and Fernando Aciar. As multi-talented as they come, before they joined forces, Alcocer was cooking in Michelin-starred kitchens across Europe, opening Brown Café on the L.E.S., and designing his own furniture; Aciar was running his beloved Greenwich Village eatery O Café and crafting organic, handmade ceramics under his label, Fefostudio. Now together under one roof, the guys are pooling their crafts into an all-day café serving seasonally-inspired eats and selling the ceramics they’re served on. Bites range from savory (baked eggs with arctic char, turmeric and coconut milk) to satisfying (maple porridge with asian pear and black pepper) to sweet (gluten-free chocolate banana bread), though all are health and sustainable focused. For sale are the shop’s ceramics– all one-of-a-kind and made on-site in Aciar’s adjoining workshop– plus, artisanal goods like local honey, hand soap and housewares with inspired, original designs.


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