Maya Jankelowitz is the matriarch of one of the fashion set’s favorite restaurants in town: Jack’s Wife Freda, which she owns with her husband, Dean. And believe us: The hype is warranted. The brunch is a favorite—expect dishes like rosewater waffles and green shakshuka—but they cook up a mean meal at about any time of day.
And Jankelowitz always does it in style: “Valentino suits me best for bussing dirty tables.” Need we say more?
What’s your approach to fashion?
I [prefer] to not take it all too seriously. I like to try new and different things and to surprise myself and others. Having our restaurants in the city and always working and living downtown, it almost feels like you’re dressing up for the city. The city fuels my creativity.
Who and what inspires your style?
Working in restaurants is a huge inspiration; it’s almost like a mini stage to get dressed for. Valentino suits me best for bussing dirty tables and serving coffee, otherwise [Man Repeller blogger] Leandra Medine has been a solo inspiration for me. I love her as a friend and as a regular at the restaurant—and usually just one glance at her, or even a text from her, just gives me a whole new idea of who I feel like and what I feel like wearing. I really see a little bit of myself in her.
Where do you find the best style in New York City?
I’d definitely say SoHo. I’m not sure if all the stylish people live there, but they definitely all pass through this neighborhood to work, to shop, to eat, to pass by, to stroll, to get lost. I’ve lived around and worked in SoHo for nearly 16 years, and I never get tired of it.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city?
I take my kids to breakfast at Gemma in The Bowery Hotel a few times a week. It’s spacious, simple, and right by our house. We also love Cafe Mogador—my husband proposed to me there, so it’s a natural part of our life. Blue Ribbon sushi is hands-down my favorite sushi in town.
And, wait for it—and please don’t judge; I have two little boys!—we often go to Dave and Buster’s in Times Square and get burgers at Jekyll and Hyde with all the pre-theatre tourists. At least I’m honest.