Meet The Woman Behind The Latest Restaurant Trend

Photos by Noah Fecks

Following Tokyo Record Bar's success, Ariel Arce opens a wine bar that hosts a dinner party every night

Ariel Arce is not afraid to fail. "The only way you can actually succeed is to fail, so I failed a lot and learned a lot and now I just know what that feels like and it doesn't scare me," she told me when I asked how she comes up with such unique concepts for each of her food and drink ventures. "Probably a lot of people have a lot of great ideas every day and decide not to do them because they're scared. What scares me is if we can't actually do the things that we say we can do."

What can the 31-year-old New York restaurant owner do? She can open Tokyo Record Bar—a Japanese eatery where diners pick the playlist from a collection of records and end the night with a slice of pizza—just months after opening Air's Champagne Parlor—a bar where glasses of bubbly are treated with the same approachability as still wine and craft beer—just because a space opened up in the same building. She can design the restaurants mostly with just help of her father, sourcing the most minuscule of details, like Manga that features wine and Champagne for a bathroom. Just a year and a half later, she can open a homey "Sedona chic" wine bar and restaurant, Niche Niche, where every single night a different host throws a "dinner party."

Photo by Noah Fecks

Arce credits her love for entertaining to her parents and growing up in a home where "dinner parties were a norm," saying it was the inspiration behind Niche Niche. "There's nothing more fun than being invited into someone's home, having them cook and pour drinks for you. Why not think about a restaurant who does that?" she says. For $40 at the 25-seat SoHo bar, customers are able to taste four different wines selected and introduced by a rotating group of "winemakers, producers, people who sell wine, people who curate wine lists, people who write about wine," who are all given the same budget for their respective night.

Still, given the range of hosts and their varying backgrounds—from RAMONA wines founder Jordan Salcito to Delicious Hospitality Group's (Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones) wine director Grant Reynolds—an entirely new experience is guaranteed each night. "A lot of wine tastings aren't necessarily about tasting older things or more expensive things, but more about getting an overview of something," says Arce. "I think this gives a lot of leeway and room for our hosts to really be able to choose a gorgeous variety and selection." It's that desire to educate, by having guests try a few different wines instead of sticking to one or two glasses that they would typically order in one sitting at a bar, is what ultimately inspired Arce to start Niche Niche. "A lot of people, when they go out to dine, don't particularly want one plate of food," she says. "In this culture recently, of having lots of different plates of things and lots of different tastes of things, I don't see why we can't apply that to wine."

Speaking of plates, for another $40, guests can get a family-style meal tailored to each night's pairing. Instead of vying for attention though, Arce sees the food as "a support vehicle for the wines"—though don't let that lead you to believe that the meal is an after-thought here. "Before the new week, we sit down and we look at all of our hosts that are coming in, and we discuss the wines that they've chosen and if they're thematic or if they have a style, a varietal that really kind of stands out," she says. "Then, we look at what some regional cuisine would be really nice to pair with that."

A Champagne tasting that fell on Mardi Gras, for example, inspired a Southern Cajun meal that complemented the elevated wines, while French and Italian menus will end the month based on what the hosts have selected. Regardless of the cuisine though, according to Arce, "the food is intended to reflect if you were to come in for somebody's house. There's a bunch of little snacks for you when you first get there and then there's a plate of food that you eat in close proximity to other people." The night I attended, the most delectable shared plate of charcuterie, cheese, and condiments and bread served as the first course, a plate of pork and a bowl of salad served as second, and an apple crumble rounded out the night—all paired perfectly to organic and natural sparkling wine hailing from France, Germany, and Czech Republic selected by sommelier Veronica Rogov.

Photo by Noah Fecks

As a former actor and film student, Arce wants all her restaurants to be more akin to a "theatrical experience" than a traditional dinner out. "We have a million restaurants in NYC, and some of them really stand out to you. To me, that's because they have a true authenticity and purpose," she says. "Just to open a restaurant for restaurant's sake… I don't know why anyone would do that. It's such a hard business."

Despite following this philosophy and offering something new with every project of hers, she will never not be concerned that her restaurant won't succeed even though almost two years later Tokyo Record Bar still needs to be reserved a month ahead. "I am always going to be terrified that people will not show up to my dinner party. I will always be that person. I'll be the girl that's texting everybody the morning of just like, 'Reminder. Party at my house tonight,'" she says. "And then, because of that, I end up inviting more people than I really should." Case in point: When Arce sent out a pre-opening reservation sign-up for Niche Niche to Air's and Tokyo Record Bar regulars, she got 500-plus emails overnight. (Reservations are booked at Niche Niche for tastings through April, though guests can try walking in without a reservation or coming at 10pm and onward when it turns into a traditional bar with a wine list.)

"I'm a really impulsive excitable person, and I can get excited about any idea. If I think it's fun and I would want to do it, then I'm excited about it. And I have a real challenge because I will then just go do it, and sometimes I don't even test it out," she says. This spontaneous nature can explain how she is currently opening another concept underneath Niche Niche, Special Club, a supper club that will host live musicians (predominantly playing blues, soul, jazz) and serve Asian-inspired food, sake and wine, and shochu-based cocktails. And yet with almost four restaurants under her belt, Arce is not planning on slowing down or settling at just that, with numerous ideas in her head that she might one day act upon should the right opportunity come along.

"We had a North Star when we opened Tokyo Record Bar, and it was that we just want to be the most unique dining concept in New York," she says. "Every time someone says to me, 'That was so unique,' I'm just like, 'Okay. We did the thing that we said.'" And as long as she keeps on doing what she sets her mind to, she won't be afraid of what's next.

Photo by Noah Fecks

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

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Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's reaction to that prediction is literally all of us

Though it felt like no one saw the bonkers end to Game of Thrones coming, Gwendoline Christie, who played Ser Brienne of Tarth on the show, predicted exactly who would end up with the majority of power in the Seven, or rather, Six Kingdoms years before it all went down. During an interview leading up to the penultimate season of Game of Thrones in 2017, Christie sat down with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister) for an interview with Mario Lopez, and they were both asked to predict how the whole thing would come to a close. Spoilers ahead...

Lopez posed the question, "If you were a gambling man, who would you say?" Coster-Waldau replied: "Well gambling, the odds now are clearly in Daenerys Targaryan's favor. Or, that guy," he said, pointing to a picture of the Night King.

But Christie, knowing Game of Thrones' tendencies toward the unpredictable, came right back at Coster-Waldau, asking, "But don't you think it's going to be someone out of left field?"

"So I'm wondering if it might be Bran," Christie suggested, "Just because we keep seeing the world from his perspective, don't we? We keep seeing the visions. So is he in the future, projecting in the past?"

Coster-Waldau's reaction to the suggestion that Bran will rule over them all is, well, exactly how we all felt watching it play out in real time this past Sunday evening. "The three eyed raven? As a king? No, that doesn't make sense," he said. And, well, same. Because while I usually *adore* watching Christie shut down Coster-Waldau, like they're an old married couple bickering, this time I'm on his side. It made no sense!

Coster-Waldau attempted to reason with her, saying that if Bran was planning the whole thing, then he wanted Jaime to push him out the window, and that makes no sense at all. But Christie stood firm in her belief, and, as last Sunday demonstrated, her commitment to this highly improbably outcome paid off. We hope she placed a sizable bet in Vegas.

Catch the full clip below.