Wifey, Simone Shubuck and Janine Foeller's beloved bakery-meets-gallery pop-up is back and this time will hold court at Café Altro Paradiso. The restaurant, a part of Ignacio Mattos’ Matter House group, will collaborate with Wifey for a one-day-only “morning market” held at Altro on Sunday, October 27th. From 9-11:30am, guests can check out Shubuck’s custom ceramics, while noshing on deli-themed dishes and pastries such as grab & go egg and cheese sandwiches, buttered kaiser rolls and coffee—all executed by the restaurant’s celebrated pastry chef, Natasha Pickowicz, who has collaborated with Wifey in the past. Oh, and hot chocolate with mezcal....
Wifey first opened its doors in Prospect Heights back in 2017 and offered a new kind of creative food space that could exist in a more liminal, flexible world than what the rigor of traditional restaurants provide. Shubuck, who is an artist and years ago worked in the service industry at Gramercy Tavern and Babbo as a server and florist, was invited to do something in the space by art world colleague, Janine Foeller, who owned Wallspace gallery in Chelsea. Shubuck—who is married to Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport—reached out to her food world friends like Mattos and Pickowicz, as well as Pam Yung (who formerly owned Semilla), Marco Canora (owner of Hearth) and Karen DeMasco (pastry chef at Hearth), offering them a chance to experiment by piloting recipes without the rent overhead.
The result was a striking, new kind of space combining food and art; a theme that has continued as a reference point for Shubuck since art school, when she created an almost summoning circle installation of cake sculptures. Some customers weren’t quite sure what to make of Wifey: Was it a coffee shop? A gallery with only one person's art? A performance venue? It didn’t matter because guests felt it was something special for the otherwise sleepy Brooklyn neighborhood. Wifey, when it existed on Flatbush Avenue, opened before a number of hotspots like LaLou, Oxalis, Maison Yaki and Ciao, Gloria that have recently joined the neighborhood.
As for the odd name, "It ended up sticking for a bunch of reasons but was meant ironically and also lovingly to the collaborations of but not limited to women's friendships," says Shubuck.
In its first iteration, Wifey allowed Shubuck to show off her esoteric art, with something handmade covering every nook. Shubuck crafted mugs with eye decals that held fior di latte soft-serve with toppings like bran streusel and Amarena cherries; wobbly ceramic vases with moody flowers; and, on the walls, in the back area for working or hanging out, her floral paintings stood proudly. The menu changed by whim, but featured largely Italian deli delights, which seems to be the theme at the upcoming Café Altro Paradiso event as well.
"When I was offered a Brooklyn storefront on Flatbush Avenue, I was certain of two things: I wanted the space to exist outside of the traditional parameters and expectations of an exhibition space, where art and food and people could intersect, collaborate, and experience something new. And I wanted New York-based artist Simone Shubuck to take it over, claim it, and mark it as her own," Foeller says of their Wifey partnership in the monograph.
In addition to the breakfast menu at the upcoming October event, expect Shubuck's book for sale and Wifey t-shirts designed by Andrew Kuo.
Café Altro Paradiso is located at 234 Spring St, New York, NY 10013. Wifey’s next installment will run at the Matter House group restaurant from 9-11:30am on October 27th.