"I'm allergic to trends in all things," Brooks Reitz says with a bit of a laugh when he's asked about his personal and shopping style.
Indeed, you're most likely to spot the 30-year-old Charleston-based restaurateur (Leon's Oyster Shop, Saint Alban) and cocktail entrepreneur (Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., his line of small-batch mixers and barware) in a J.Crew button-down and a pair of khakis, rather than anything that suggests "this season."
Reitz, one of the city's young talents who came up through the bar and front-of-house programs at FIG and The Ordinary, is unabashedly enamored with the classics—but in a way that's aspirational and elegant, not staid. It's a through line that runs from the clothes he buys to the restaurants he runs: Leon's serves a traditional—and ridiculously delicious—pairing of fried chicken and oysters, while Saint Alban is a European-style all-day café with inspired breakfast and lunch fare (including the self-proclaimed "world's best banana bread").
"I like things that are familiar and comfortable," Reitz says. "In NYC, I'm drawn to spots like J.G. Melon or Balthazar, rather than the newest restaurant."
As he gears up to open The Oyster Shed, a new private dining space at Leon's, as well as to launch a line of simple syrups called Jack Rudy Simple, Reitz shares some of his favorite home and kitchen products (see the slideshow) with us. Unsurprisingly, simplicity and good craftsmanship are important.
"I'm more likely to buy a Boos block to use as a cutting board, even though there are cool cutting boards out there now," Reitz says. "I know that a Boos block is high quality. Whether it's olive oil or a knife or a pair of jeans, I look for utility and value."
And, of course, great design is key: If you've ever taken a gander at the Jack Rudy line, you've probably noticed its labels, which are stylishly unfussy (and indeed, almost medicinal looking). Leon's is really an "oyster shop" in name only, with its stucco walls and reclaimed schoolhouse chairs, and Saint Alban is the sort of charming place you could spend an entire day in, what with its dark wood floors, mirrored columns and free-floating outdoor tables with vibrantly painted steel chairs.
If we could be left alone there with the restaurant's buckwheat waffles with whipped ricotta, we'd happily develop a late-onset trend allergy of our own.