Q&A With Jen Balisi of Indulgent Eats

Food and community go hand in hand at Common. Our Sunday potlucks are a staple gathering, and we even get creative- themes have ranged from “favorite foods” to “Seamless potluck” to “cheesey”. And when it’s time to dine out, Crown Heights is filled with amazing options which our members take advantage of in duos and groups.

Jen Balisi of Indulgent Eats

Jen Balisi of Indulgent Eats

Last weekend we brought in Jen, known to many NYC foodies as @IndulgentEats, to our Pacific flagship as a blogger in residence, to provide her knowledge of food and her excellent #foodporn photography skills to the Common community and to Crown Heights. We couldn’t believe how much ground she covered in just a weekend- that girl can really eat!

I caught up with Jen after her weekend at Common. See below to hear her shared living myths debunked, her thoughts on the community, and, most importantly, her favorite Crown Heights eats.

Danny: How was the overall vibe and community at Common?

Jen: Common felt like the apartment I wish I had, with a spacious, well-decorated and open living area. This connected to a fully equipped kitchen with an island (I’ve always wanted a kitchen island). The bedrooms were sizeable with huge closets, and serious bonus points for the Casper mattresses and Parachute bedding – I honestly felt like I could be in a hotel! And the fact that all of this is already there, no buying or moving of furniture, and more importantly, no trips to Ikea, is a huge plus.

But accommodations mean nothing unless you like the people that you live with, and I found that the community at Common was nothing but friendly and gracious.

A suite at the Common Pacific Flagship Home

A suite at the Common Pacific Flagship Home

D: So, how would you describe co-living after experiencing it firsthand?

J: Prior to my weekend at Common, I hadn’t heard too much about co-living spaces. And while I initially had hesitations around the concept, those quickly went away. At first the living situation at Common seemed comparable to finding a sublet in a 5 bedroom apartment on Craigslist, but then I found some very key differences: 1) no psychos, 2) a much nicer apartment 3) a community of people you actually want to be friends with.

Potluck Dinner at our Pacific Flagship

Potluck Dinner at our Pacific Home

D: Did you find there to be a connection between food and community throughout the weekend?

J: Definitely – I was surprised to find how much activity went on in Slack, from building announcements to members opening up their own suite to the rest of the building to invite them for dinner.
Many of the conversations on Slack were centered around where members were going for their next meal or asking if someone wanted to join them for dinner. I also discovered that Common held a weekly Sunday potluck, which I got to attend and contributed a few items from my exploration of the neighborhood, including incredible pork buns from Bunsmith and the jerk chicken from Glady’s, both located right on Franklin Ave. The potluck provided a great way to bond with other members while grubbing on good eats.

 Eats and drinks from Glady’s

Eats and drinks from Glady’s. Photos by @indulgenteats

D: How was Crown Heights as a neighborhood, especially the food?

J: I was delightfully surprised to find a wealth of places that I wanted to try. I’d say Caribbean food dominates the area, which was a welcome find as there aren’t as many stellar Caribbean places near me in Manhattan. Glady’s on Franklin Ave. was one highlight, as the vibe of the restaurant itself, with bright colors and tropical drinks is sure to transport you right to the Caribbean. Add their jerk chicken or jerk pulled pork hash that’s served for brunch and you’ve got a perfect meal. Other standouts included Puerto Viejo, a fun Dominican restaurant, as well as Berg’n, which is the food & beer hall that features a rotating list of 4 different food vendors.
I ate incredibly well the entire weekend, and honestly can’t wait to come back and try more of the places I had on my list!

 The current food options at Berg'n

The current food options at Berg’n. Photos by @indulgenteats

To see highlights from Jen’s weekend, check out @hi.common for the @indulgenteats Common instagram takeover. And stay tuned for a full neighborhood eats guide, coming soon!

Want to join in the fun? Learn more about Common and apply here.

Danielle Robin is a community leader at Common.

Games in Common: Crowdsourcing Our New Game Room

We are thrilled to open our newest flagship home on Albany Avenue in Brooklyn this week. In every Common home, we have tough choices to make about furnishing, decorations, and common spaces. In this one, we had one of the toughest decisions of all: what board games to choose for the game room?

Albany Home Game Room

We had space for about 20 games, enough to offer a decent variety without cluttering up the room. Picking the right games can set the tone for a warm, social space. Choose the wrong games (Diplomacy, perhaps?) may send the message that we want our members to get really, really angry at each other.

So we decided to pick games that have a few key characteristics:

  • Social. Fostering community is a huge part of what we offer at Common. Single-player games can be fun, but they don’t help our members get to know each other. All of the games we chose – from two-player Chess to many-player Resistance – are designed for multiple players.
  • Revealing. The best social games not only get people talking, but reveal something interesting about the player. Dixit is a great example of this – by playing, you better understand how your fellow players think.
  • Easy to Understand. Members shouldn’t need to pore over the rules for an hour to understand how to play. Puerto Rico is one of my favorite games, but it isn’t particularly accessible.
  • Old School. We designed Common with home in mind. So we wanted to find some games that felt like home – perhaps games our members last played at home with their parents or were always sitting around their dining rooms while they were growing up.

As I have a lot of game-loving friends, I sourced ideas through a Facebook post.

Facebook Post - Board Games

I got 90+ responses, an enthusiastic response given that I was only looking for twenty games. While this is explicitly not a democracy – I was looking for ideas, not votes – it is worthwhile to tally up the results to get a sense of what everyone thought. Every game that received at least two votes is included:

List of Board Games

As you can see, the classic Catan was the runaway winner, with a very diverse set – Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity, and Connect 4 – following up.

Although the aggregate results are interesting, some of the best recommendations were only made by one or two people. Dixit, Ticket to Ride, Resistance, and Jenga and all great games for the Common environment. Although each only got a couple votes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pop up in the game room.

The great part about this is that we can change the collection of games over time as we see what works and what doesn’t. And of course, members are welcome to bring their own games.

Want to join in? Apply to join one of our Brooklyn homes.

*Of course, my favorite of all was Josh Harris‘s suggestion: “broadcast TV.”

Meet Our Newest Brooklyn Home

In October, Common opened its first flagship home on Pacific Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Since then, the nineteen members living there hosted almost ten potluck dinners, attended a few Daybreakers, started a book club, arranged movie nights, and helped Common craft a better experience for rental living in NYC and beyond.

Today we’re opening our second Home in Crown Heights, a few blocks down the street from our Pacific Flagship. It’s slightly smaller than our first, with ten total members across three suites. But it’s no less special, and we’re excited to welcome our new members this month.

The Design

Our Albany Home ground floor is a comfy living room, a custom made farm table, and a large kitchen for cooking together while overlooking the garden.

Albany Home Bedroom Albany Home Backyard Albany Home Kitchen

Members at Albany enjoy beautiful home essentials from Snowe, and gorgeous furniture and lighting again from West Elm, Restoration Hardware and Bryght. We also teamed up with Milne, in the Hudson Valley, to design a custom made farm table, cellar desk, and rooftop daybed, as well as sourcing some wonderful Hudson Valley antique furniture for our kitchens and garden.

Albany has the same warm feeling, cool patterns and Americana artwork as Pacific.

Exposed brick, timber floorboards, and great sunlight; everything we love.

The Game Room

While our Pacific Home has a dining hall, our Albany (Avenue) Home has a game room.

Albany Home Game Room

There is a 55” TV and Chromecast for movie nights, PS4, PacMan Arcade Machine (which is absolutely addictive), and a stack of great boardgames. Play or watch movie next to the LED fireplace.

Albany Common Room

Our Artist-in-Residence

As part of our collaboration with Daybreaker, artist-in-residence Elliott LaRue will be living in our Albany Flagship home. We’re excited to have him as part of our community. As part of his residency, he’ll help introduce our members to the best of NYC. Our artist in residence is a wealth of knowledge in the NYC creative scene and can provide awesome recommendations and ideas for the community.

Want to learn more about our newest flagship home? Apply to Common here.