Flea Market to Table
Welcome to the antiques show thatâs outfitting the restaurants of Boston.
Itâs 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in July and Iâm sitting in a grassy parking lot, eating a picnic lunch of roast-beef-and-horseradish subs, brown-butter Rice Krispies treats, and fat plums that have been served buffet-style out of the back of a 14-foot UHaul truck. With me is chef Nookie Postal (the driver of said truck), his restaurant-design architect Eric Robinson, and his friend Sally Peterson, of PBSâs This Old House.
Weâre taking a break from a morning spent at the Brimfield Antique Show, in the central Massachusetts town of the same name, where Postal and his team have been on the hunt for items to furnish Commonwealth, the market/restaurant hybrid concept heâll soon open in Kendall Square.
In time, Craigie on Main chef-owner Tony Maws strolls byâhis wife, a handful of employees, and his own haul of Brimfield finds in towâand steps into the UHaul to admire Postalâs acquisitions: a brushed-zinc tub (soon to become a raw bar), a weathered, Hoosier-style hutch (a coffee-condiment station), and a honey-hued industrial desk (a host stand). Maws tells us about his own purchases for his new spot, the Kirkland Tap & Trotter: lab stools (bar seating), a cart of steel letters (dĂ©cor), and one large mermaid figurine (who knows).
With restaurant owners trying more than ever to create interiors with a unique identity, many of them are eschewing the humdrum uniformity available at big-box furniture chains, and are instead seeking a touch of authentic, industrial charm and personality with vintage finds. Which is why theyâre all shopping at Brimfield. Steel & Rye, Belly, the ÂGallows, and Area Four are just a few of the local spots that found elements of their interiors at the flea market, which stages its final fair of the season September 3 through 8.
âI wanted this really rustic feel, so for that you have a few optionsâyou can build it, you can buy it already built, or you can find it,â says Postal, who will be heading back this month. âAnd the best place to find it is at this giant flea marketâitâs the way to add character and save money.â
Itâs true that restaurants relentlessly talking up their âreclaimed barn doorsâ and âreused antique stovesâ can get annoying mighty fastâthese days, Robinson points out, âanything âre-â is goodââbut beyond the buzzwords, antiquing makes economic sense for restaurant owners. Postal tells me that heâs bought 20 items during his two trips to the fair, saving upward of $50,000 by avoiding custom-built pieces and prefab items.
And, of course, antiques come with a narrative that a piece from Restoration Hardware simply cannot provide. âI want to know where our coffee station came fromâI want to know what it used to be doing,â Postal says. âNow itâs going to get a new life doing something totally different, and thatâs really cool.â
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/article/2013/08/27/flea-market-to-table/