Java Jolt at Brooks Brothers

Java Jolt at Brooks Brothers

I’ve been a customer of Brooks Brothers since I was in shorts and knee socks. No, not as long as the store has been open (1818), but almost. I used to think the Brothers had nothing new up its ultra-conservative, button-down, Oxford-cloth shirt’s long sleeves, but I guess I was wrong. The Red Fleece Café—the brand’s first-ever coffee shop—has just opened in the Flatiron District. Who would have thought?

To be sure, BB’s Red Fleece label is not for the likes of full-figure guys like me. [For the uninitiated, the Golden Fleece is the store’s longtime symbol of traditional-fit—read: roomy—clothing; another permutation, the Black Fleece line, is for the fashion-forward guy and gal.] The uptown branch, at 346 Madison Ave., is better suited, pun intended, to my body type. 

Not so long ago, I innocently walked into the Flatiron store, looking for—what else but?—a button-down shirt, only to be told, in the nicest possible way, that I was too porky for the slim-fit, tailored Red Fleece line. I wasn’t and am not offended: If I can’t squeeze into the clothes, I nevertheless can drink the coffee.

But since I have no stomach for coffee, then the Kusmi tea (nearly as old a purveyor as Brooks) and pastries from Balthazar. For you java fans, the Red Fleece Café serves Stumptown single-origin and seasonal coffees brewed to order in the lower-level space. Stumptown’s Cold Brew is also on draft, and there’s a full espresso bar. Merchandise to take away includes bags of beans, as well as coffee and tea sets and accessories.

Brooks Brothers is definitely keeping pace with the zeitgeist.

Red Fleece Café, 901 Broadway, at E. 20th St., 212.228.3580, www.brooksbrothers.com/RedFleeceCafe/redfleececafe,default,pg.html