They Might Be Clients

So, Spike Gjerde loves his music lyrics. Anyone who’s eaten at Woodberry Kitchen and seen the — ta-da! — Shop Boy-printed menu knows this.

“If you’re after getting the honey, then you don’t go killing all the bees.”

It’s a lyric by Joe Strummer, once of the Clash, then of the Mescaleros, and now sadly R.I.P. That lyric is from a song called “Johnny Appleseed,” which Spike loves and whose nature-respecting theme his restaurant sweats to uphold.

Anyway … Spike’s apparently got a musical soundtrack running through his mind 24/7. Turns out he’s also a fan of They Might Be Giants, a sometime rock, sometime kiddie-music band with a huge cult following. He tells the story of, in the way-old days, peppering the band’s manager with faxes (lol!) pleading for the boys to stop into Spike & Charlie’s, his first restaurant, when They were in town. Lo and behold, They — John Flansburgh and John Linnell, et al. — walked through the door one night, ate well (no surprise) and invited Spike to a Baltimore concert, giving him a shout-out from the stage. Fandom cemented.

They Might Be Unisex

Woodberry Kitchen had inherited some fairly so-so restroom accommodations at its inauguration a few years back. Not horrible or anything. Just not … special. Well, it wasn’t long before Woodberry was so special that it needed to expand, and it was decided that the restrooms should be spiffed up big time while the whole kitchen expansion/remodeling deal was underway. And that the restrooms should be for both men and women. Equality. No waiting. Cool, right? (Shop Boy wonders if they wondered whether maybe the guys’d be shamed into keeping a place they shared with women a bit tidier. Couldn’t hurt. Shop Boy had four older sisters, one younger sister. I learned quickly. Painfully.)

And so it was that Woodberry came to have three unisex restrooms. With fancy sinks, soaps and, tra-la-la, cloth hand towels. The three doors were given a distressed-wood look, smoked-glass panels and the walls around them painted a nice gray. Classy. But what of the signage? How to alert a newcomer that, yes, whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, this was the place?

How about this:

OK, so-so photo, but you get the picture: The title of one of Spike’s favorite They Might Be Giants songs, “Women and Men,” on each of the windows and the lyrics applied to the surrounding walls by a real, old-school sign painter. The story of Mary’s hunt for the right painter is one for another day (guy named Bill Pickett, out of Richmond — a find), but for today we can just skip to the happy ending. It’s a gorgeous sight in real life. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go see it.

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