clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How a Restaurant Becomes a Lifestyle Brand

New, 1 comment

New York City’s Dimes is selling stationery and cosmetics alongside salads and small plates

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

A shelf inside Dimes, the restaurant.
Photo: Courtesy of Dimes
Monica Burton is the deputy editor of

At a time when Mission Chinese is making Fashion Sweatshirts, Momofuku has limited-edition Nikes, and even KFC is selling gear, Dimes stands out as one of the most successful practitioners of restaurant-as-lifestyle. The New York City restaurant from chef Alissa Wagner and Sabrina De Sousa, known for serving vibrant, healthy plates to an attractive clientele, is also a carefully designed brand providing more than just the dinnertime needs of hip, artsy New Yorkers.

The extension of the Dimes brand beyond the restaurant encompasses more than merch. Three years after it debuted as a four-star micro-eatery, Dimes has taken over its particular corner of Manhattan. Friends of the brand call this section of the Lower East Side “Dimes Square,” according to co-owner De Sousa. The portfolio now includes Dimes, the restaurant, which moved to a larger space in 2015; Dimes Deli, offering smoothies, bowls, sandwiches and other daytime to-go fare; a catering operation; and, its newest addition, Dimes Market.

“To me it’s the most special part of all of the Dimes spaces,” De Sousa says of the market. “I think it really allows the customer to see behind the scenes what we curate, and what we use, and why we use certain products and things that we love.”

Dimes, the restaurant.
Photo: Courtesy of Dimes

Dimes Market, officially a grocery store, is selling more than food. It’s selling a lifestyle, and everything inside it, from the signature vegan, sugar-free chocolate bar, to the spices, doled out to customer preference in decorated dime bags, is in keeping with Dimes’s gritty Goop aesthetic.

At the market, Dimes sells all the groceries their customer would need to cook dinner, plus a selection of other products with the Dimes stamp of approval. There’s a Dimes scented cedar-neroli candle, a $395 ceramic water filter, called Walter, NSFW greeting cards, and rolling papers “by an artist friend.” In back, customers can peruse the staff’s favorite books.

De Sousa has shaped the Dimes brand from the beginning, and even before opening Dimes Market, she thought it made sense for the restaurant to offer more than food. De Sousa, who is “really into apothecary,” made lip balm, rosewater spray, and a salt scrub for friends. She decided to sell the lip balm in the restaurant. At the time, some questioned the decision, pointing out that lip balm is not food, but she was adamant that the move made sense: “Why not? Why can’t you do that? Who’s setting the limit to anything?” De Sousa’s full skincare trio is now available at the Dimes market emblazoned with Dimes’s black-and-white logo.

The art and fashion set have embraced Dimes. Vogue called out a $120 De Sousa-designed Dimes pepper mill, indie e-commerce site Of a Kind featured the candle, and recently, the Dimes team collaborated with art gallery Farago to produce a sweatshirt that has nothing to do with food.

Dimes salt scrub, rose water, and lip balm.
Photo: Courtesy of Dimes

It’s products like these that attract the tourists, who “are more in here to buy something with a Dimes logo on it,” De Sousa says, but Dimes Market is for the community first — a community that includes “young families, lots of creatives that work in the neighborhood, [and] a really wonderful amount of skaters.”

These regulars can get almost anything they’d need from Dimes. They can come to Dimes Market in the morning for a carry-out breakfast, stop by the deli for a quick lunch, and dine at Dimes for a sit-down dinner. Along the way, they’ll perhaps acquire more of the Dimes brand, including pantry items, natural beauty products, and even a Dimes-designed pepper mill because, as De Sousa says, “Why not?” She adds, “As long as it fits within the brand in a certain way then I think the skys the limit.”