No, it’s not a mirage induced by the heat of regulations and a potential restaurant downturn. Restaurateurs are indeed blurring the lines between work and play, inedible and craveable, and restrooms and politics.
1. Room to co-work
Cashing in on the plugged-in gig economy, restaurants are offering up their dining rooms as co-working spaces. Professionals in Austin, Texas, will be able to set up shop for free during work hours at Collide ATX, a new restaurant, bar and creative space. During the workweek, Indique in Washington, D.C., offers a co-working program called Chai + Wifi. The $35 monthly membership includes endless coffee and masala chai.
2. Odd ingredients
Cocktails with atypical mixers are proliferating. Chicago’s Steadfast combines wheated bourbon and coffee essence with pipe tobacco; Columbia Room in D.C. uses a tincture made from old books; and Sacramento’s Saddle Rock adds leather, chocolate, Thai chili and peanut oil to a bourbon cocktail.
3. Bathroom politics
The restroom is still a contentious space for social regulation. In December, legislators stalled a repeal of North Carolina’s bill forcing transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond with their birth gender. Now, restaurants in Oklahoma are required to post (and pay for) signs in bathrooms that suggest alternative services to abortions for pregnant women.