Williamsburg motorcycle aficionados need no longer stand around cracking their bullwhips in the street. Jane, a cafe selling custom riding gear, is due to open at 161 Grand Street on October 20.
Adam Kallen, a 40-year-old LA native, says he and his partner, 37-year-old Alexander DiMattio (“everyone calls me Alex, but my mom would want me to use my full name”), based their concept on the Saturdays Surf shop in SoHo. “I like to drink a lot of coffee and I like to surf, so that’s a good spot for a person like me,” said Kallen. “But we realized that the motorcycle equivalent of Saturdays Surf did not exist in NYC, so we stepped in to fill that void.”
Kallen, a graduate of Loyola Law School, started a clothing line at the age of 28, and had actors like Aston Kutcher and Gerard Butler rockin’ Material Junkie hoodies, tee-shirts, and hats. After putting that project in his rearview mirror, he got involved in e-commerce sites for brands like rag & bone, Hudson Jeans, and John Varvatos, eventually moving to SoHo to launch his own company.
DiMattio, a lifelong rider, went to Miami in 2000 to work for Italian-based motorcycle company Ducati. Two years ago, when he moved back to New York, he couldn’t find the type of motorcycle shops he used to visit as a kid.
“Everything now is drop your bike off and pay some crazy amount of money,” DiMattio says. “No one wants to talk to you because they’re basically in it to try to get every dollar they can out of you. So we decided to open a place that caters to the culture of riding.”
With Green Day playing, Adam walks through the blueprints of the space. “The high-quality espresso bar will be here, we have the La Marzocco machine on the floor there,” he says, pointing to giant white box surgically wrapped in red tape. “On this wall we’ll have another one of our custom bikes on the floor with beautiful leather jackets from Lewis Leathers, who are based out of London, hanging next to the bike. We’re actually the only store in NYC who has an account with them.”
Initially they’ll be designing the apparel on the “easier” end of the spectrum – things like hoodies and tee-shirts. But they plan to eventually start developing more fashion and collaborate with other designers. And they’ll also build custom bikes alongside two other mechanics (the construction takes place in two garages). Three orders have already been placed for custom choppers motorcycles.
DiMattio is banking on the lure of motorcycles as bait. “This is a cool, happening neighborhood,” he says. “It’s a neighborhood I want to go to work in every day. Williamsburg is a very open minded place. Every landlord we’ve met has said to line up twenty motorcycles down the block and people will love it. I mean, it’s not the Upper West Side where people don’t want you to make any noise.”