Eat and Drink The Rag Trader and Bo Peep evoke the Garment District's heyday in architecture and design By Nicole Levy email@example.com Updated January 12, 2018 11:20 AM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email The Garment District may lack a historical landmark, but it now has the Rag Trader. Owner Mark Fox's new restaurant and its affiliated subterranean bar, Bo Peep, take their cues from the history of the former garment factory space Fox leased at 70 W. 36th St. in Oct. 2016. Fox, 46, an Irish-born restaurateur who also runs the White Oak Tavern in the West Village and Street Taco in Gramercy, started researching the property's past after chiseling away threadbare layers of concrete to unveil a factory floor, and scraping sheetrock from the walls to expose brick, he says. "In New York City, you don’t find spaces this wide and with these ceiling heights too often. I discovered that it had been a garment factory for 75 years." That revelation inspired Fox's tribute to the artisans and workers whose industry sustained the garment manufacturing businesses there and throughout the Garment district during its mid-20th century heyday. ”I said to myself, 'The garment center is going away. All clothing is made in Asia now. Brick by brick, this whole area is being dismantled, the buildings are coming down, there’s high-rises going in, and with the Hudson Yards development going on the extreme West Side, this area is going to disappear," Fox recalls his line of thinking. "It’s not a landmark district ... so it’s going to eroded from the footprint here. We should take some ownership of it and give it some heritage, because this was a home to three generations of people who worked here." At the Rag Trader, Fox preserved the architectural elements he could, built in elements that would evoke the old factory and collected vintage décor items and commissioned new furniture to bring a "softness and understated opulence" to the space that opened to the public last month. We'll leave it to you to explore the Rag Trader's menu of pizzas, bar bites like fried chicken sliders and mac 'n' cheese ($14) and large plates like yellowfin tuna steak with baby bok choy ($31), but here's a tour of the historical touches you'll be dining and drinking among: In the main dining room... Photo Credit: Nicole Levy ...the exposed brick wall evokes the factory floor. The painted sign here isn't original, but it does replicate a couple you'll still see faintly on the western side of the building at 70 W. 36th St. There you'll also spot the 'Beauty Bar' Photo Credit: Nicole Levy Fox purchased the old department store display cabinet at an architectural salvage store in Connecticut, and dressed it up as it might have looked in the 1950s -- with mannequins wearing fur stoles and hats, and a series of Vogue magazines lining the bottom shelf. The props were intended to set a mid-20th-century atmosphere, he says. Most of the art on the walls... Photo Credit: Nicole Levy ... is framed fashion advertisements and designers' sketches, many of which bear notes in the margins by the designers themselves. Moving farther back on the first floor... Photo Credit: Nicole Levy ...you'll find the intimate Tailor's Parlor, bordered on one side by a display of spools that rotate if you spin them (and how can you not be tempted to?). All the way in the rear is the Hat Box Photo Credit: Nicole Levy The intimate dining space is decorated with vintage ladies' hat boxes, bearing brand names like Saks Fifth Avenue. "I wanted it to be fun and playful," Fox says, "so ... I went out and bought 40 of them, through eBay and salvage shops." Other final touches in the restaurant include... Photo Credit: Nicole Levy ...tailors' rulers, embedded in the wooden tables near the main bar. Photo Credit: Nicole Levy ...on the mezzanine floor. Downstairs, you'll find Bo Peep Photo Credit: Nicole Levy It's a subterranean cocktail piano bar named after a clothing company that operated out of the building from 1932 to 1975, according to Fox's research. "Their speciality was kids' partner clothing, where boys and girls were dressed in matching outfits back in the '40s and '50s," he explains. "I said ... 'What a fun name for a cocktail bar.'" The theme of the décor is mid-century opulence Photo Credit: Nicole Levy Tufted, red velour banquet seating, custom-made fringed lampshades, mid-century patterned wallpaper and dim lighting in this room channel the luxury of its past as a tailor's fitting room and buck the sparse, Prohibition-era style of most modern speakeasies. "A lot of them can be quite serious and reserved," Fox says of the latter, remembering thinking, "I want don't people to whisper here, I want them to cheer, I want them to clap." At night, a pianist plays everything from the standard "As Time Goes By" to Bruno Mars hits. The bar itself is made with drawers... ...from a tailor's drafting table. Lining the walls are binding-less books intended to evoke a tailor's accounting ledgers. Even the cocktails at Bo Peep are garment-inspired Photo Credit: Nicole Levy Beverage director Evan Hawkins' "Four Pocket Waistcoat" is a blend of mezcal and sherry, infused with blackberry and garnished with a sprig of mint and a dusting of powdered sugar. Hawkins' "drink menu is written in a way that you can understand," Fox says. "You don't need Google to figure out what you're drinking." The Zoot Suit Riot is a surprisingly savory drink Photo Credit: Nicole Levy Whipped egg whites give this scotch cocktail its frothiness. Japanese yuzu lends a light citrus flavor, caramel a slight sweetness, but sesame is dominant. A sprinkling of black sesames brings the "riot" factor. By Nicole Levy firstname.lastname@example.org Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.