It’s an unusually pleasant August afternoon in New York City, and Brett David is surrounded by people at a private rooftop party in midtown. On first appearance, he has the look of a post-millenial downtown badass: he’s cool and collected, a basketball jersey exposes two full sleeves of colored tattoos, his trademark vergrown beard is a contrast to his neatly coiffed hair. His appearance alances on a line between insouciance and impeccable taste, a unique combination that has defined the “it” style of the past decade. He’s sitting in the corner of the party, chatting with models, photographers, and other creative types, holding a Gatorade in one hand, gesticulating with the other.
Although he counts model and fashion designer among his many titles, Brett David is best known as the Creative Director and co-founder of Lower East Side hot spot Leave Rochelle Out of It, known simply as Rochelle’s by its patrons; they will celebrate their one year anniversary on November 13. It’s a bit of an anomaly that someone who makes a living “serving bad decisions nightly” would be drinking Gatorade at a party, but David’s abstinence from substances is merely one of his many unique characteristics that go against stereotypical expectations for a NYC nightlife connoisseur.
He explains, “As cliche as it sounds, I don’t need that stuff. I’m high on life.” He elaborates further: “But really, I am. I have a serotonin disorder where my mind produces too much of it.” Whether the result of a disorder, or a blessing, Brett David possesses a singular gusto and enthusiasm towards both his profession and life in general. Affectionately nicknamed “Daddy Do it All,” (which is also his Instagram handle @daddydoitall) David possesses both the vision and endless drive to excel in all of his ventures, both business and creative. At the age of only thirty-four (he will celebrate his thirty-fifth on October 3rd), he has managed to make a name for himself as an industry expert with a seasoned resume that many can only dream of. His previous stints include working as Anna Wintour’s personal butler, Maitre D’ of downtown hotspot The General, running a catering and modeling waitstaff company, and overseeing the Met Costume Gala as well as Chelsea Clinton’s wedding among many other accolades.
Consequently, his extra-curricular activities are equally as impressive. He has modeled in campaigns for major brands such as Converse All Star, and has his own line of custom made jackets that sell for over $1,500. It’s safe to say David is a bit of a cross-disciplinary visionary, but his true passion, as he states, is “serving people.” Hence, he embarked on creating Rochelle’s, a bar that embodies his unique outlook on life as well as his commitment to service, with his business partner Stephen Yorsz.
“You walk into the bar and it’s like my personality threw up all over,” David jokes. Along the walls are photos of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and Iggy Pop, opposite an impressive selection of whiskey behind the bar. Quotes from W.C. Fields, Mark Twain are painted throughout the venue, as well as some of his own tongue-in-cheek mantras such as “Dating in NYC is tough; it’s kinda like trying to find a needle in a whorestack.” His own classic rock and ‘80s playlists blast rock staples from bands such as Guns N’ Roses, which he considers among his favorites.
The bar’s backbone is its commitment to service and to NYC’s community. Although a praised destination that has hosted a slew of celebrities, it maintains an air free of pretense. As David puts it, “I want people to come here to have a good time.” Rochelle’s is a place to leave your ego at the door. Having a successful business venture so deeply rooted in personal philosophy is rare. However, Rochelle’s possesses the same blend of sophistication and urban eccentricity that is intrinsic to David’s singularly aspirational-yet-relatable personal style. The key to pulling it off? “It can’t be taught. It has to come naturally, I guess,” David shrugs. Some people naturally have that “it” factor: Brett David is one to look out for.
by Christine Buzan