When John Paul Jones left his job waiting tables at wd~50 to create playlists for restaurants, hotels, and casinos, his co-workers Sam Mason and Eben Freeman didn’t forget him. In between spinning at Macri Park in Williamsburg on Wednesdays and the occasional Friday, JPJ picks up a few shifts at Tailor. If you like what you hear on the stereo, that’s his doing, too. We asked him about tasting curious dishes for fall, Mason’s new soda-fountain project, and who comes in to order plain steak.
How would you describe your music program at the restaurant?
Rooted in rock and roll. Sam’s pretty big into music, and a big country fan. Indie rock, a big mix. I try to put on a lot of his favorites: Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt. Early in the night we play old ragtime, which I like a lot and I think Eben likes too.
Tailor’s redoing the menu for fall. What have you been sampling?
They’re always working on new stuff in there, but it might just be an idea that’s a part of a dish. [Mason]’s been working on huitlachoche corn dogs for the bar menu. They did a dinner for Kellogg’s where they used cereal throughout the meal.
Have you tried any unique floats from Mason’s new soda-fountain project?
Not his floats, but a lot of his ice cream. He’s talked about [the soda fountain] since the beginning of the summer, but he was also talking about an ice-cream cart. He has a lot of ideas, but this one’s in motion. I’ve tried Eben’s raisin soda in a cocktail he’s working on with a brioche cachaça.
Cocktails alone at Tailor are $12 to $15. Are people ordering less these days?
It just seems like there’s less diners in general, but we just added a [$140] twelve-course tasting menu and people have started ordering that, which was kind of a surprise to me because you think people are going to come in and spend less. But they think it out before they come in.
You get a lot of foodies who come in for the unique dishes, but do you get uninitiated diners who take one look at the menu and try to order a steak?
Definitely, we’re near a couple of hotels, the Soho Grand or 60 Thompson. Sometimes they’re pleasantly surprised or they’ll just ask for steaks. Some guy was trying to order a typical New York cheesecake and putting it in terms of slices, but the first cheesecake on the menu is sort of snaked around the plate and the new one isn’t conducive to slicing so it’s kind of funny to see the reaction. He liked it.
How do Sam and Eben handle groupies?
Sam’s sort of used to it, but it’s funny to see Eben’s reactions sometimes. He’s super gracious, but he doesn’t really expect it all the time. And you know, if you’re a cocktail groupie and you come up at the end of the night, you’ve probably tried a lot of cocktails.