The Rise of Chore Coats in Restaurant Fashion


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On a recent spring day in the West Village of Manhattan, as employees balancing trays of tagliatelle and Gran Classico spritzes darted from the Via Carota kitchen to the sidewalk seats, one laborer seemed to be working harder than any other: the chore coat. The utility jacket, in shades of tawny brown and cream, clung to the shoulders of the runners hauling pasta and cocktails, of the bartenders pouring out jiggers of Aperol, and of the servers unfurling menus.

Symbol of Style and Casual Sophistication

Each coat was cropped, slightly rumpled, and projected an important message: This is a seriously stylish — but not serious — restaurant. Via Carota may have been one of just a handful of restaurants to feature such a fashion-inflected look when Rita Sodi and Jody Williams opened it in 2014. But today, the humble coat has become the de facto uniform for restaurants of a certain ilk.

Functional Fashion for Modern Hospitality

Functional Fashion for Modern Hospitality

You won’t see it on a McDonald’s cashier or the maître d’ at Le Bernardin. You will see it at “a casual restaurant that has all the foods and wines you could get at a two-star Michelin restaurant, without any of the fuss,” said Arjav Ezekiel — an owner of the restaurant Birdie’s in Austin, Texas. Over the last decade, as workwear made its way into street fashion and cultural fascination with the hospitality industry has reached a sweaty, flushed-cheek fervor, restaurateurs across the country have adopted the style in lieu of the stuffier sport coats, vests, and aprons of yore.

Arjav Ezekiel, an owner and the beverage director of Birdie’s in Austin, Texas, rotates through a collection of 15 chore coats for each night of service.

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