Inspirations at Sartre OTR

My latest restaurant uniform and styling gig for Sartre OTR took me straight to thoughts of dining in a funky French brasserie. The new restaurant’s atmosphere is lively with dark and cozy touches of olive green leather, exposed brick, and preserved original architecture. It’s industrial but elegant, with barrelled ceilings and mid-century lighting. All of this inspired my design process.

Sartre is the brainchild of Jim Cornwell, formerly of Dutch’s Larder and Boca Restaurant. The space shares a building with Rhinegeist Brewery, so I was challenged to strike a balance between a comfortable and casual style and a more refined palette. I decided to go with a classic bistro look for the servers and added a quirky apron for a fun touch. The server’s apron color was taken directly from a piece of original plaster that still lives on Sartre’s walls. When I first toured the space, I noticed it right away and knew that I needed to use that color in the uniform.

Guests should be greeted by a hostess looking perpetually like they just stepped out of “Spring in France.” I dressed the bartenders in striped or eccentric printed tops and dark denim aprons with contrast straps. All aprons were made in Cincinnati, specially designed by myself for Sartre exclusively.

Jim and his team allowed me to go with my instincts. What a gift! When I pitched them three different style options, their first words to me were, “which is your favorite?” Of course I had one that far outweighed the other options. I was thrilled that they allowed me to do my thing and chose my #1 option. In my world, what I consider my favorite isn’t always what the client chooses. Of course, they loved it too but Jim kept encouraging me to go for it. Well, I did just that! I hope that you enjoy Sartre, a restaurant that inspires the eye as much as it feeds the stomach. I am so pleased to be a part of the always energetic, ever-changing world of restaurants and hospitality.

Photos by: Annette Navarro