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The Soup (er) Bowl

In the Flatiron District of NYC, at East 19th and Broadway, lies a distinctly curated shop of kitchen delights. One will find a total hodgepodge of fiesta flatware, discarded cutlery, crossword puzzle plates, ice cream shop bowls, sherbet dishes, printed aprons, gouache portraits, grandma’s cake stands, olive holders, lemon squeezes, decorate muddlers, glassware that once belonged to congressional members, vintage wedding plate samples, canning jars, antique high tea sets, Alice in Wonderland teapots, some things are chipped, everything is mismatched and topsy-turvy, but there are some amazing finds to be had. There is even a special SALE section in the back with which they stock items from previously closed restaurants.  Some things are chipped, everything is mismatched and topsy-turvy, but there are some unique and beautiful finds to be had! Here is what the owner of the space says about Fishs Eddy’s genuine roots and peculiar charm:

It was 1986 and we were driving around the back roads upstate New York (code for lost). We stumbled upon a small hamlet called Fishs Eddy. It was a perfectly odd name so we borrowed it for our just-opened shop near Gramercy Park.

Those early days were new and exciting, driving aimlessly (code for no map) in our dented light blue pick-up looking for interesting finds. One fortuitous trip landed us in an old barn that was storing mountains of restaurant dishware from a near-by manufacturer. This barn had been in a fire and it was filled with plates, bowls, platters, cups and saucers, creamers and gravy boats. And remarkably, every single soot-covered dish was intact! We asked the owner of the barn (oh and yes, he was wearing overalls) if we could buy a few pieces and he said, “take it all!” And so we did. We hauled the “ware” back to our city apartment, scrubbed non-stop for days and discovered patterns and shapes that were absolutely beautiful and truly classic; a real slice of American history! We shared the same thought that we were on to something special… and customers agreed.

Twenty-five years later Fishs Eddy has made its own history. Millions of edgy, unique and incredibly fun dishes and glasses have come in and out of our doors. That old blue pick up truck is now a big delivery truck with our logo (and a GPS!) Of course we still meander and let life take us to unexpected places (code for can’t figure out how to work the GPS.) But most importantly, we’re still true to our original vision: commercial quality dish and glassware with plenty of other things to make people smile.

After all these years, we are still happiest doing dishes!

When I go to a restaurant that has a certain theme – whether it be Japanese, American Nouveau, Italian, Southern Style, French, Malaysian – the flatware and dinnerware speaks volumes about what type of food and which style restauranteur is running the space. In a Southern, down-home-cooking restaurant, the bowls are usually filled with mix and match, shabby-chic, charm. The colors are light and airy like cotton candy. In a Japanese restaurant, often the vibe is a bit darker with square plates, raku style ceramics, and earthen glazes. In a traditional French restaurant the menus are written on chalkboard signs, the tablecloths are white, and the lighting has a dim-light, dome-like glow. This decor plays on obvious stereotypes of cultural influences, and historical nods to the food, decor, and style of a certain time, place, or location.

Just like in a restaurant, you are the manager of your home’s kitchen space. Treat this area as if you were about to make an executive decision as to the theme of your space. Do you want a humorous and bright 1950’s kitchen vibe with a bit of satire? Choose bright primary colors.  Do you want the feel of an authentic cafe space? Take photographs of your favorite local lunch spot. Wherever your favorite restaurants to dine may be – pull decorating elements from those spaces in order to make a quirky, themed, kitchen. And of course never underestimate the power of Googling images of kitchens from your favorite time period . The term “1960’s Kitchen” shows some images with amazing fodder for thought.

Much of Fishs Eddy’s inventory spans several eras, decades, colors, and vibes. In that way, you can create a space that is both Victorian but modern. Place a toile print teapot on a white, square porcelain appetizer plate and you have just joined two disparate decorating styles – creating an eclectic mix of time periods. A longtime go-to for a quirky kitchen space has been mismatched cutlery (replete with different handles), or fiesta ware, and color ware plates. The cutlery is small enough to not offend when patterns are obnoxious and colors “don’t match” – somehow gingham, paisley, sunflowers, checks, and stripes all make sense together . Colorware plates are solids in myriad colors and often pull tones from the cutlery without realizing, allowing your kitchen’s potpourri of prints and hues to seem well-planned. The more incongruity, the better!

Here are some easy, pre-made cheats to start off your collection:

Mix and Match Cutlery – Set of 16 – $39.00, Urban Outfitters

Mix and Match B&W Cutlery – Set of 16 – $39.00, Urban Outfitters

Mix & Munch Cutlery Set in Multicolor – Set of 16 – $29.99, ModCloth

Cutensils Cutlery Set – Set of 16 – $29.99, ModCloth

One repeat shopper of Fishs Eddy explains its appeal best, “Well, when I enter Fishs Eddy, I submerge myself in an alternative world where I grew up in the country, ate farm fresh eggs everyday, the milkman came every morning without fail and my mother taught me how to make the PERFECT apple pie.” For those of you who do not live in the city, or cannot visit often, many of the store’s selection can be purchased directly through their eponymous website.

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Keren Veisblatt Toledano is a User Experience Designer at Berya LLC. In her spare time she can be found soaking in Epsom salts, admiring copper pots, reading dystopian science fiction or sneaking a slice of lemon into her drinks. Her motto is, “A morning without coffee is sleep.” She lives in Philly with her cat, Cagney, partner, Michael, and son, Josiah.