On July 24, Bumble Inc., the women-make-the-first-move app, will open its inaugural Bumble Brew in New York.
The café and wine bar for daters, networkers, and friends was first announced two years ago as slated to open in fall 2019 in Manhattan’s SoHo. Permitting issues and then the pandemic delayed the launch.
Now Bumble Brew, a partnership between the tech platform, which went public in February following a $2.15 billion initial public offering, and Pasquale Jones, the Italian power-dining room from Delicious Hospitality Group, will open for business with a new address and a tweaked mission statement. The restaurant will be located next to Pasquale Jones on Kenmare Street in the Nolita neighborhood downtown.
“We know that our community in New York are big fans of Delicious Hospitality. Our users love the brand overall,” says Julia Smith, head of brand partnerships at Bumble.
Originally, Bumble Brew was focused on “date-friendly” food meant for sharing. That is: no sauce-laden burgers or any dish that had the potential for embarrassment at the table. “No spaghetti—nothing that would be awkward on a first date,” said Caroline Ellis Roche, Bumble’s chief of staff, in 2019.
That’s changed. As Smith describes it, the café has been reconceived as a “safe space for healthy and equitable relationships and connections.” This equates to a more robust dining experience for people who have been stuck at home too long and need an escape, no matter the time of day.
At lunch, those connections can be forged over a predominantly Mediterranean and vegetable-focused menu with dishes like morel mushroom omelets and grilled baby romaine with green goddess. There will be a dry-aged cheeseburger at the bar—and yes, even such potentially messy pastas as spaghetti with summer zucchini and chitarra, a guitar-strand shape flavored with squid ink and served with crab. Breakfast will include ricotta with bee pollen and plums, and wild greens with a runny egg.
There will also be an ambitious coffee program, according to Ryan Hardy, chef and co-owner of Pasquale Jones who will oversee dining at Bumble Brew. Plates will average around $20. A large selection of bottles and wines by the glass from small producers in classic regions such as Burgundy, as well as newer ones like Eastern Europe, will help conversation flow.
Despite the popularity of online interaction during the pandemic—video calls on Bumble increased 70% from the week ending on March 13, the day a national state of emergency was declared, to the week ending on May 1, for instance—the company perceives an uptick in real-life interaction. In a March 11 interview with Bloomberg TV, founder Whitney Wolfe Herd said her company would benefit from cities reopening, and she called out a “pent up demand to socialize, to meet friends, to engage and to be with people.” Data collected by the company in June back her up: Nearly 90% of Bumble users in the U.S. who selected first-date preferences are ready to date in real life again.
The all-day dining spot will initially open for breakfast, then for lunch on July 31 and dinner on Aug. 7. Most restaurants open with dinner service, but Hardy is starting with a simpler morning menu because he has fallen victim to the issue plaguing restaurants across the country: lack of staffing.
The space, outfitted in Bumble’s signature yellow, includes an 80-seat dining room, plus a cocktail bar, patio seats, and private dining room. Eventually, there will be events like the ones that have taken place at Bumble Hive, the pop-up precursor to Bumble Buzz that offers seminars, along with food and drinks. “As a multifunctional home base for Bumble to have in Manhattan, we can envision it as a programming hub,” says Smith about the restaurant.
She is walking back Bumble Brew’s original expansion plan of opening a second outpost in Austin, Texas, home to its headquarters and an increasing number of Silicon Valley transplants. “We have big plans for Austin as well,” said Ellis Roche in 2019. Now, Smith says, “we’ll see how New York goes; this is the testing ground for us. There’s no concrete plans for a second test market, but Austin is our hometown. It could be a market we entertain.”