When couples break up, a range of events usually take place. Whether the two cut ties or they stay friends, the lovey-dovey stuff stops, a box of belongings is often returned, and if the relationship was at all serious: tears and Kleenex are par for the course. Usually.
This sentiment does not ring true if you’re Brett David or Stephen Yorsz. Instead of wallowing over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and watching The Notebook – or getting shwasted at a local dive – the two dudes opened their own whiskey bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and named it after their mutual ex: Rochelle. And yes, that is her real name.
Leave Rochelle Out of It is better known as “Rochelle’s” to the regulars, but most patrons don’t know the backstory.
In 2007, Brett and Stephen met at a New York City club while Stephen was bartending. In 2008, Brett had a “hot, quick” two week fling with Rochelle (whom he met previously in 2006). After a quick trip to Miami together, the two decided they were better as friends.
“She's larger and louder than life, total ball of energy and never not smiling,” says Brett. “Single best smile of any woman I've ever met. Kind and humble to the T.”
After getting introduced at a barbeque (hosted by Brett) in 2009, Steven dated Rochelle for a year, and described things as “hot and heavy” with the super fun chick. Years after both Rochelle-related relationships ended, Stephen and Brett remained friends and decided to work together. “I didn't like my job, Brett didn't like his, so we teamed up,“ says Stephen.
“Steve and I wrote a business plan for a back-to-basics bar concept that we knew would work,” said Brett. The spot, located at 205 Chrystie St., was set to debut in November 2013.
Months before opening day, the duo still didn’t have a name for their new project. When they were pitching ideas, the men focused on what they had in common, including tattoos and beards, offering to “Leave Rochelle Out of It.” But, fatefully, the name stuck.
One problem: they didn’t know how – or when – to make the reveal to Rochelle.
“Steve and I were scared sh**less on how to tell Rochelle about naming the bar after her,” said Brett. “So, we waited ‘til the day we hung the neon sign up, got up on few ladders, took a pic with it and sent it to her. She wrote back ‘What. The. Fu**.’ So, she gets all the credit for that, for sure.”
Despite her rather candid response, these days, Stephen and Brett are on good terms with the woman who inspired the name of their bar.
“Rochelle is as beautiful, if not more so, today than she was when I met her,” says Brett. “She's engaged to the most wonderful man, and they have the most perfect baby boy for a son. He will be two this winter. We don't speak as often as I'd like, but she is a new mom and not living in New York City. We are all friends on social media, and I try to speak to her at least every month or two.”
Besides how the bar was named, there’s no shortage of entertainment at Rochelle’s. Brett is known to grab a bottle of Jameson, jump on top of the bar, and pour shots down patrons’ throats “like baby birds.”
While some romances end in horror, this story – and the bar – has spawned an entire new generation of hookups and relationships, even in the digital age.
“We do a Tinder Thursday night, which means people that meet on Tinder can show up, show us that they swiped right to meet, and their first drink at the bar is on us,” says Brett, who notes the venue was named one of the best places in the city to meet singles – on and off of apps. There's no shortage of flings and romantic encounters.
Adds Brett, “You're due to either meet Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Right Now.”
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