Barbecue restaurant dictates the clothes that make this man

CANDID CLOSET

June 02, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Writer

Around Wayne's Barbecue, he's known as the cowboy. With his denim vest, silver belt buckle and leather boots, Wayne Brokke looks like he belongs in a shootout at the OK Corral, not by the door of the Harborplace restaurant he owns.

But clothes help sell an eatery's image, he says. And when you're cooking baby back ribs and pan-fried catfish, you'd better be ready to don the 10-gallon hat.

"I won't do the Garth Brooks look," says Mr. Brokke, 45, who lives in Pasadena. "If it feels like I should be trick or treating in it, I won't wear it."

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4 How did you get interested in Western clothing?

The restaurant business has dictated my style. When I opened the first Soup Kitchen in South Baltimore, everyone in the restaurant business was wearing suits. But my place was casual. People would see me and ask if they were underdressed, so I got rid of my coats and ties. When I opened Wayne's Barbecue, I had my choice of pigs or cowboys as the motif. Since I grew up with Roy Rogers, I chose cowboys. Six months after it was decorated, a friend bought me a pair of cowboy boots and a shirt. I started wearing them to work and it made people feel comfortable.

What is your real style?

In this day and age, you can blend things in your wardrobe. I feel just as comfortable in jeans and a cowboy shirt as an Armani suit.

How extensive is your collection of cowboy clothes?

Half my wardrobe is Western. I like the belts the best of anything. They have great detail on them: Indians, cowboys, guns, bulls' heads. I probably own 25. Even in the summer when I wear shorts and a shirt, I'll put a belt on. A belt for a man is like a pocketbook for a woman. It's the kind of thing he should invest time and money in.

What's the rest of your wardrobe like?

Shorts, casual clothes, suits. My favorite sport coat is by designer Bill Robinson. It's pumpkin-colored cashmere. I had seen it years ago and liked it. Last Christmas, my manager and employees chipped in to buy it for me. When I opened it up, I had tears in my eyes.

Where do you shop?

Not in Baltimore a lot. Occasionally I'll go to Jake & Jake's for country wear. Most other things I'll get in New York.

What purchase do you most regret buying?

I've regretted buying a lot of things. But nine out of 10 times, I give them to employees or my family. I have a sweater that I've owned since high school. I'm waiting for green plaid mohair to come back in.

Other than that, I bought a Perry Ellis yellow cotton jacket that I gave to my sister because I thought the color was too bright. I saw her in it, though, and thought, "Why did I give that to her? The yellow's not too bright." But it was too late.

Did you think of asking for it back?

Clothes are like water glasses. If they get broken or lost, it just gives you the chance to buy others. I put a lot of thought into this stuff called clothes.

To whom would you most like to give some fashion advice?

My older brother. He has no clue. He'll make fun of me for wearing a pink button-down shirt, but he'll wear these lime green golf pants embroidered with ducks. The way he dresses makes him look 10 years older. He strives to be Bob Hope.

If you could, what would you most like to change about your own style?

I'd like to have a bigger closet. I like what I have. It's taken me a long time -- and years of therapy -- to learn to like where I am in life. My clothes reflect that.

What are you longing to buy next?

A new windbreaker. I've got to replace the one I gave away.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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