You get the plane to New York, you arrive at JFK.
You grab your bags, jump a cab, 20 minutes later you’re in Manhattan. The streets are teeming with people and it’s ten PM on a Monday. Your cab speeds up, slows down, this way, that way, you arrive at the hotel. Check in. Your room has a view of the city and you can hear it through the glass. You shower, get dressed, stand in the mirror. Holy fuck. You’re in New York City. What are you gonna do? You’re gonna go to a new place in Chinatown called The Flower Shop, and you’re gonna walk there. At night. In NYC. Wear your backpack on your front.
The Flower Shop is a two-story pub and restaurant that, according to Australian ex-pat and co-owner, Andrew “Ronnie” Flynn, offers “good food, laid back vibes, great service, a proper bar with no frills, a pool table, and a strong sense of community… and no wankers”. Flynn launched the spot with fellow Aussie Dylan Hales of Randolph Bars fame, Chef Michael Hamilton of Kingswood, Acne and The Surf Lodge fame, Sydney publican Paddy Coughlan of the Lord Gladstone and Lady Hampshire etc. fame, former famed Major Food Groups project manager Will Tisch, and last but not least silent partner Tony Hawk of professional skateboarding fame.
According to Flynn, the notion for The Flower Shop had been burbling away for a while. “The idea had been in my head since I was a kid,” he says. “So when me and my partners came together last year, we discovered the concept was a shared vision. We all separately loved the idea of our own version of Cheers.” And it does feel like Cheers, with a little bit of RSL and local bowling club thrown in. The overall vibe is cozy 60s/70s den: faux wood paneling, Formica-topped bars lined with swivelling vinyl stools, cozy dining booths, a sunken living room with an operating fireplace, a jukebox, pool table, and absolutely no wankers. “We wanted to create a place that had all the elements we thought were ideal for a restaurant and bar in downtown NYC.”
The pub is a long awaited dream come true for South Cronulla-born Flynn, who has had a hand in the success of numerous late night NYC institutions since migrating to the city in 2005. “I’ve opened and helped create a bunch of nightclubs and bars in NYC, including Southside, ACME, Up&Down, and most recently NeverNever,” he says. “And it ’s given me this cool opportunity to always be around and work with interesting people from all over the world.”
Chef Michael Hamilton is one of those people. Hailing from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Hamilton trained under Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay, so it’s no surprise that The Flower Shop’s menu is completely devoid of sucky fare. Long Island squid with pork and pepper, squid ink soubise and dressed fennel, ricotta agnolotti pasta with black trumpets, lemon zest and parmesan, steamed tile fish with charred broccoli, salsa verde and crispy potatoes. It all sounds delicious, but what does Flynn like? “The beef tartare with smoked celery root and capers is insane. Also, our chicken burger with kiev butter is the tits.” The tits? “The tits. And we made sure we have ice cold Coopers on tap.”
In The Flower Shop Flynn has marshalled all the resources and knowledge he garnered during his ten-plus year hustle in NYC hospitality and nightlife and brought about what might just be the best place to eat, drink, and hang out in the city that never sleeps. But why “The Flower Shop”? Flynn smiles, “The name itself came from the stories we’d heard about the old village florist, the place where you could get all the real town goss: whose birthday it was, who was cheating, who’s getting married, who died etc.. The unofficial town hall, I guess, which is what we want the spot to be. Plus, chicks love flowers.”