There was one thing Alex McCrery hated about his job as Jerry Seinfeld’s personal chef: his uniform. Chef’s coats and aprons are typically made with polyester, which is more water- and stain-repellent than cotton but feels hot and uncomfortable. And the cheap cotton pants wear out quickly.
In an era of open kitchens and celebrity chefs, McCrery sensed an opportunity to design high-quality uniforms stylish enough to wear to and from work. He and his wife, Jenny Goodman, started experimenting. (Both are restaurateurs: They once owned a casual burger and biscuit joint in Brooklyn.)
In late 2012, the couple launched Tilit with a chef’s coat, pants, and a pair of aprons—all in flattering cuts and made with blends of cotton, polyester, and spandex. As word about the company’s hip workwear spread around the hospitality industry, McCrery and Goodman started partnering with companies to create uniforms that convey a brand’s identity. Today, Tilit’s lineup includes a butcher’s coat, a waxed cotton apron, and, in recognition of the growing presence of female chefs, an apron inspired by Diane von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress.
McCrery and Goodman have more than 2,000 clients, including Manhattan’s Ace Hotel and 1 Hotel Group’s Brooklyn outpost. When Union Square Hospitality Group wanted to update uniforms for the newly reopened Union Square Cafe, Tilit designed brown aprons with straps and pockets in the restaurant’s signature crimson, and embroidered its logo on the breast. At Elske, a Danish-inspired restaurant in Chicago, Tilit crafted lightweight cotton work shirts with prints inspired by the owner’s watercolor paintings. “In the social media age, people are aware of their brand and the guest experience,” says Goodman. “It’s not just about fixtures, environment, and ambience—it’s also about what the staff is wearing and how they feel.”