When catered gigs started getting canceled back in December, Nice-born J.P. Behar scoured Craigslist for the relative security of serving in a restaurant. He’s now a full-time waiter at Sweetiepie, the nostalgic American ice-cream parlor and café that “Page Six” recently blamed as a cause for the forthcoming divorce between owners Julie Janklow and literary agent Luke Janklow. Behar tells us the pair is still actively involved with Sweetiepie, a restaurant that suits his self-described quirky personality. “I loved all of the mismatched silverware. To serve a hot dog and a very expensive tequila side by side seemed strange enough to appeal to me somehow.” We asked him if the owners’ chichi friends still come in, and who coughs up $75 for the house-specialty sundae.
Why did the restaurant open, close, and reopen throughout December?
At the very beginning, they were still testing out a few things, so they did a few private parties until eventually, in December, they opened full-time.
Did anyone notable come to the private parties?
The Ralph Laurens, famous models, and all sorts of New York society. I guess the family is quite connected among different charity groups and people who live on Park Avenue, some of the better New York, you know what I’m trying to say?
Do they still come in?
I’ve seen a couple of them here and there. I’ve seen Barbara Walters a couple of times. This past Sunday, a princess from Saudi Arabia came in. It’s all very interesting: The mix of people that come in, and also the menu. The menu strikes a note with what they had in their childhood. People order a sandwich and the sandwich is cut in a triangle, and the crust is cut off. They say, “Ooh, you have tater tots?” and they order the tater tots. And at the same time they’ll eat like, a beet risotto.
Luke Janklow insisted that caviar be on the menu? Do people order it?
We have the omelette with caviar, and people do order it. We have a spectrum. People come in and say, “Sure, I’ll have an omelette with caviar,” and people come in and say, “Oh no, I just want the four-dollar dessert.”
What are the most popular desserts?
The one talked about the most has to be the Sweetie Pig, the oversized sundae for $75. That’s really for a party because I’ve never seen two people eat eighteen scoops of ice cream, chocolate cake, bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, and a big helping of homemade chocolate sauce made from melted-down, high-quality chocolate pellets. Another very popular dessert is the dessert sampler with a micro cake, micro ice-cream cone, and a little bit of a raspberry or blueberry fool, which is cream and fresh raspberries or blueberries whipped together and topped with fresh raspberry and rose petals. The sampler is $12.
What’s a micro cake?
We make a two-tiered cake, like a Victorian wedding cake, so we started making it in a micro version, which is two to three forkfuls.
What are the restaurant’s unique design elements?
The most noticeable things would be the fuchsia-leather banquette, the pink-marble floor, and the giant birdcage. It’s made of metal, with a little round table in the middle and some stools. Comfortably, four people can fit in there. I have seen as many as nine people, sitting. They were real bona fide grown-ups drinking absinthe and sharing quite a few different desserts.
The Janklows said they took inspiration from coffee shops on the West Coast. Do you see it?
I guess there are coffee shops on the West Coast designed by set designers and movie designers. The back room is hand-painted on canvas. There are cars, merry-go-rounds, Star Wars characters. It’s all very surreal. It’s a very popular spot for ladies to come in and have a party with 20 or 30 of their friends, and we’ve done birthday parties back there and blow up a lot of balloons.