Move over, band tees—we’re rocking deli merch

Shot of Julia Roberts wearing "Mystic Pizza" t-shirt
Screenshot: okidokivideos (Fair Use)

The biggest tragedy of my life is that I failed to order a Russ & Daughters/Jake Gyllenhaal collaboration t-shirt. The tie-dye shirts dropped last year in an effort to support the iconic New York deli, and they sold out in a matter of hours, before I had a chance to order one. They’re effortlessly cool, and their mere existence makes me feel slightly closer to Jake Gyllenhaal, which is ideal.

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It seems like funky restaurant t-shirts are everywhere right now as restaurateurs attempt to keep their heads above water during the pandemic. Restaurant merch, once reserved for gloriously tacky landmarks like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Señor Frog’s, has made its way to neighborhood delis and ice cream shops. It’s not just my imagination: This article in The Guardian does a great job of explaining why the hospitality industry has turned to t-shirts as carry-out business remains treacherous.

“The T-shirts have been absolutely flying out,” one sandwich shop owner told The Guardian. “T-shirt sales have topped up pay packets, paid rent and utility bills ... money we owed suppliers and all that sort of stuff. They have kept our heads above water.” Not only does restaurant merch help customers support their favorite spots, it’s also a fun way to tell the world about your favorites the way you would with a band tee. And it’s not just t-shirts. Some of my favorite local joints are offering crewneck sweatshirts, tote bags, baseball caps, and enamel pins.

Curious about the phenomenon? Check out the full article on The Guardian here.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

DISCUSSION

murrychang
Murry Chang

I’ve gone beyond band t’s, right now I’m rocking a recording studio t.