Do Not Feed Alligators

Rapt Studio

Client: Architect of Record: LBAMechanical Engineers: AVCONContractor: Build Ops

At first glance, you might get the impression that Do Not Feed Alligators had been designed with the sole aim of being Instagrammable; the buzz it’s generated on social media since opening earlier this year certainly suggests as much. But lingering inside — over a beverage and book perhaps — guests soon find that the aesthetic appeal that first drew them in gives way to an atmosphere that’s refreshingly sincere.

What has made DNFA so well loved in the community is not a matter of style — but rather the type of interaction it was designed to inspire.

At 1,000 square feet, Do Not Feed Alligators offers its guests a microcosm of the magic of post-Covid urban life, promoting a mix of culture and camaraderie when we crave it most. It’s an invitation to intermix with others while sipping expertly-crafted coffees from around the world, to attend a robust roster of live events, to peruse a carefully curated selection of art books (including the proprietor’s own title), or simply to sit in a hidden plant-lined courtyard as a record spins whimsically in the background.

As guests tuck in, some of the subtler layers of the design come forward. In the morning, a rush of commuters flows through for to-go orders, underscoring the efficiency of the bar layout. Later in the afternoon, the sun cuts across the terrazzo floor, plaster walls, and custom fiberboard bookshelves, highlighting the contrast of their textures. In the evening, the soft glow of portable lights punctuates table tops, coaxing patrons into a quieter, more intimate engagement. The design choreographs a shift through energies and atmospheres throughout the day. 

Breathing new life onto Bleecker Street, DNFA has become a neighborhood staple and a visitor’s must-see. And of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s a great backdrop for selfies!