Brad’s is a cafe in NYC’s East Village, and it’s the closest thing to a sitcom I’ve ever encountered. In my short stay here (six hours), I’ve heard it referred to as: “The Freelancer’s Union,” “Cheers”, and “Brad’s.” I have observed it to be: A place to eat lunch; a place to access the internet; a place to charge one’s phone; a place to watch WEEDS on one’s laptop, a place to start drinking very, very early; a place to sit around pretending to “work;” and a place to dance subtly to R&B. Mostly, however, I found it to be a place where people actually purchase their ability to sit in a cafe all day by actually buying food. An anomaly? Yes. But a gang of regulars keeps the tradition of paying for your all-day coffee drinking and internet-browsing alive and well. There is no buy-one-cup-of-coffee-and-stay-all-day nonsense here.
Who are these regulars? A motley crew who all met at Brad’s. (Except: Weber and Browne met while attending a Jay-Z concert at SXSW, and then reconnected at Brad’s.) Despite the crew of regulars, the atmosphere is totally work-amenable. Talking is done at a respectful decibel (I think they mostly communicate with each other via Twitter).
Regular: Lindsey Weber
Arrived: 11:30 a.m.
Purchased: Iced coffee ($2.50), toasted chicken salad sub ($4.95)
Note: “I’m a freelancer. But right now I’m organizing a game of Titanic Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. No one’s paying me for this.”
Regular: Rembert Browne
Arrived: 10 a.m.
Puchased: Nothing (“I got free coffee today.” “Do you always get free coffee?” “I never get free coffee. I always support Brad’s.” “But you did today?” “I did today.”) UPDATED TO ADD: He just bought a salad ($6.95); he couldn’t get through the day without throwing Brad’s some money
Note: He runs the Twitter account for Brad’s number one and possibly only fan club. His shorts are a hectic print.
Regular: Myles Tanzer
Purchased: Salad Combo ($8.95), cookie ($2)
Note: “Do you come here everyday?” “Not everyday.” “Most days?” “Some days.” “How many days?” Three or four days a week.” “Do you always buy something?” “Yes.” “Do you always buy lots of things?” “No. But at least a beer. I always buy at least a beer.”
Regular: Christine Friar
Arrived: 3 p.m.
Purchased: Waldorf salad ($6.95), Mrs. Vickie’s Smokehouse BBQ Kettle Cooked Chips (IDK) , frozen margarita ($3.50)
Note: Keeping this business afloat; unabashed day-drinker (“Happy hour is all day except from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.” LEGIT.)
Regular: Jason Lipshutz
Arrived: 3 p.m.
Purchased: Nothing (“I’m not staying,” he said)
Note: When you’re a regular, sometimes you can come in to pee and shoot the shit without buying an iced coffee to justify your presence. It’s an earned right, and this man’s earned it.