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Restaurant Shirts Are the New Concert Tee

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A few weeks ago, I was flying home from a food work-cation in New Orleans and Joan Jett was on my plane. I have to admit it was kind of exciting. I remember seeing Jett open for Aerosmith when I was in junior high—a pretty awesome concert from what I remember—and naturally I bought an Aerosmith shirt and wore it proudly to school the next day. It cost somewhere between $15 and $20 but was a required souvenir, mostly to ensure that everyone at Southwood Middle School knew I had seen Aerosmith and Joan Jett the night before. Walking through the halls, others were sporting the same shirt and we all felt a kinship, sometimes solidified with a nod or smile. We thought we were all part of the same cool crowd.

I still go to concerts but rarely buy the shirts anymore. I'd like to claim I've outgrown this, but in all honesty, the obsession remains—only now restaurant shirts have replaced the concert tee.

Of course collecting restaurant fashion is not a new phenomenon. There was a brief period in 1989 when I, along with many others in this great country, flirted with the idea of collecting Hard Rock Cafe shirts from every city. This faded pretty quickly (though clearly not for everyone) in conjunction with my realization that Hard Rock Cafe sucked.

My collection is small right now:

Rules keep me from expanding the collection too much. For example, I think it's weird to wear a restaurant shirt in the restaurant's hometown. Not sure why that is, but it probably stems from my 13-year old urge to avoid wearing a Guns N' Roses shirt to a Guns N' Roses concert. If I ever decide to leave New York, I'll probably pick up a few shirts on my way out. Among them: Sullivan Street Bakery, our Momofukin' Full shirt (unless they start selling real ones), and naturally, a Spotted Pig shirt.

Just as Aerosmith replaced Motley Crue as my favorite shirt in 1989, I'm sure Au Pied de Cochon will be replaced soon enough. But for now it's my favorite. Come to think of it, I wore it on that plane ride home. Do you think Joan Jett noticed?

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