The Coffee Shop Happenings Thread
  • A bunch of coffee shops have opened up in Western Crown Heights (between Washington and Nostrand Ave) area over the past 3 years or so.

    While I would love for them all to survive for the next 12 months, I am not optimistic.

    This will likely turn into a coffee shop deathwatch.

    I think of a coffee shop as a business that primarily makes its revenue from the sale of coffee, as opposed to food.

    That said, here's my list of the coffee shops in the area:

    Novelle Vag: On Lincoln, near Classon

    Park Place Coffee: On Park Pl, near Franklin

    Pulp and Bean: On Franklin, near EP

    Breukelyn: On Franklin, near St Johns

    Little Zeldas: On Franklin, near Sterling

    Glass Shop: On Classon, near St, Johns

    Crosby: On Classon, near Bergen

    Penny House Cafe: On Washington, near Park Pl

    Washington Bagel Cafe: On Washington, near Dean

    Sit and Wonder: On Washington, near St Marks

    Coffee Bites: On Washington, near St. Johns

    Richol Cafe: On Nostrand, near Pacific

    Pacific Oasis Cafe: On Pacific, near Nostrand

    CT Muffin: On Nostrand, near Bergen

    http://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=coffee&find_loc=Prospect+Heights,+Brooklyn,+NY#l=p:NY:New_York:Brooklyn:Crown_Heights

    Bruekelyn and Little Zelda's have beer and wine licenses, so they have a slightly larger customer base in my opinion.

    If you want to, you can state which ones you believe will be here in Jan 2014 and, if I remember, I will dust off this thread and see if we are correct.

    It is possible that we could have all of these coffee shops and MORE, but it kind of boggles my mind.

    Here are my predictions for 2013:

    Two ADDITIONAL coffee shops will open on Nostrand.

    Two of the existing coffee shops on Washington, Classon or Franklin will either close or morph into a business that no longer obtains most of its revenue from coffee.

    Breukelyn coffee house seems as if it is on an active track to become a more of a wine/beer/coffee bar lounge as we speak.....


  • Wow, this is cold. Whew!


  • I predict...

    CLOSE - Novelle Vag: On Lincoln, near Classon

    CHANGE BUSINESS MODEL (sandwiches maybe?)-Park Place Coffee: On Park Pl, near Franklin

    STAY OPEM - Pulp and Bean: On Franklin, near EP

    STAY OPEN (although I am NOT a fan at all) -Breukelyn: On Franklin, near St Johns

    STAY OPEN-Little Zeldas: On Franklin, near Sterling

    STAY OPEN-Glass Shop: On Classon, near St, Johns

    CLOSE-Crosby: On Classon, near Bergen

    CLOSE-Penny House Cafe: On Washington, near Park Pl

    CLOSE-Washington Bagel Cafe: On Washington, near Dean

    STAY OPEN-Sit and Wonder: On Washington, near St Marks

    STAY OPEN-Coffee Bites: On Washington, near St. Johns

    CHANGE TO SERVE MORE FOOD-Richol Cafe: On Nostrand, near Pacific

    CHANGE TO BE MORE BAKERY-Pacific Oasis Cafe: On Pacific, near Nostrand

    STAY OPEN-CT Muffin: On Nostrand, near Bergen


  • Nouvelle Vag is top of my list as 'close'. Crosby I'd predict stays open...always seems to have a flow of people when I go by...just wish they served some food and beer/wine at night (its a nice space)


  • Note to Pulp and Bean 2, not one of the above mentioned is south of EP.


  • While the southside of EP is presently a slightly different market, I think Pulp and Bean 2 will do well "over there".

    Dunkin Donuts at Nostrand and EP should likely be added to my list, and is often full...


  • I think of a coffee shop as the place where Jerry Seinfield used to hang out. A place that mainly sells coffee is a café. Counterintuitive.


  • Nouvelle Vag will definitely close within the year. That place sucks. Bad coffee, unfriendly staff, no place to sit and work.

    Crosby is great and I think they will remain open and continue to do well.

    Glass Shop, Pulp & Bean, Breukelyn, Little Zelda, Coffee Bites, and Sit and Wonder will all stay open and continue to thrive. They each have their niche, and seem to have loyal customers.

    I keep my fingers crossed for Lincoln Station (same owner as Bar Corvo). It will be a coffee and breakfast place in the mornings, and I think it will open soon.


  • Breukelyn, I really wish it would go. I have never set foot in a more unwelcoming coffee shop. Heck even the customers are rude! But I suspect that the hipsters that infest the place will keep it going.

    As for the rest of the list:

    Novelle Vag- Close

    Little Zelda- Open

    Glass Shop- open. But I think their coffee isn't as good as it once was.

    Pulp and Bean- Open

    Connecticut Muffin- Open

    Sit and Wonder- Open

    Coffee Bits- Open


  • newguy88 said:

    Breukelyn, I really wish it would go. I have never set foot in a more unwelcoming coffee shop. Heck even the customers are rude! But I suspect that the hipsters that infest the place will keep it going.


    Agreed


  • Breukelyn is truly some awful Williamsburg spore that floated down Bedford and took root in Crown Heights. After living in the neighborhood for a year, and on the day I was moving to a new place a few blocks down from my old apartment, I decided to pop into Breukelyn and get breakfast for all the friends/family helping with the move. The barista allowed myself and 2 other patrons to line up, apparently on the wrong side of the bar, and refused to acknowledge us. Finally after 3 minutes or so, he told us the ordering line was on the other side of the bar. We moved over. When it got to be my turn, he just looked at me said "you have a groupon right?". Never again.


  • Personally I love narly stuff which is what I consider Breukelen. I'm reminded of why I like Breukelen every time I go to Starbucks.


  • As alluded to above, I think the ones that try to make ends meet only by selling coffee are going to have the hardest time, because their is so much direct competition.

    Breukelen and Little Zelda are innovating by adding beer and wine. What amazes me is that few (if any) of these places adapt to the warmer months.

    ...if a coffee shop invested in an Icee machine I would buy Slurpee type drinks from them all summer long.


  • You guys north of Empire Blvd. are lucky. Down here in PLG we had no real coffee shop for many months after K-Dog closed in 2011 and again after Blue Roost closed; we finally have a good one once again since Tugboat opened a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if I could cope with actually having to CHOOSE :-)


  • BobMarvin said:

    You guys north of Empire Blvd. are lucky. Down here in PLG we had no real coffee shop for many months after K-Dog closed in 2011 and again after Blue Roost closed; we finally have a good one once again since Tugboat opened a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if I could cope with actually having to CHOOSE :-)


    I was sad when K-Dog closed down for good. Blue Roost didn't last long at all. :smurf:


  • I know Skazzy is not a standard coffee shop, but the possibility of it closing (who has ever seen a person eating there?) will have a big impact on what drops off the original list. I can foresee that location on a busy intersection as very tempting to a franchise. Starbucks wouldn't be the only potential buyer.


  • Any word on the second Pulp and Bean south of EP? Haven't heard anything for a while, but I saw some people checking out that storefront a few weeks ago...


  • To my knowledge, P&B 2 is still going happen.


  • Any idea what the timeline is? Or any other details? Us south-of-the-border people would love to know!


  • The owner posted this about a month ago:


    pulpandbean said:

    FYI, just ordered fixtures for the cafe. Look for the opening soon. I am also looking employ some Brooklyn talent. If any one is interested please stop by Bob & Betty's


  • Hello from rainy Jerusalem. I am away visiting the folks. I should be back no later than a month (I miss my customers a lot). Lots of work is being done in my absence. Opening the shop is going to be my first order of business upon my return. Look for the sign and awning to go up sometime soon. Ttyl


  • (I do love it when our members continue to post even when they are out town!

    ....I posted when I was Singapore a few years ago)

    But I want to stay on topic.

    I think the coffee shops that are run by inexperienced proprieters are those most at risk. They are often unable to see when they are not doing a good job, and keep believing things will get better in the future. When in fact, things will not get better in the future UNLESS they up their game now.

    Some coffee shops are doing fine now....


  • So I'm sorry to say but I don't think Park Place coffee is going to make it. I love the ambiance of the place. But the coffee is kinda of meh and its hidden away from foot traffic.


  • which ones serve "cold brewed" coffee?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_brew

    I can only drink cold brew 'cause regular coffee is too acidic for me.

    I usually make my own but should check out some more of the local shops....


  • Anyone think Lincoln Station is gonna be a serious problem for Glass Shop, or are they far enough away from one another?


  • I think Glass Shop and Lincoln Station will both get a bump once the Court Officer Academy opens.

    ...enough demand for both.


  • Has anyone been in Park Place Coffee? I've not, but I've peeked in a few times and patronage seems to be somewhat dismal.

    As an aside, two Saturdays ago I was in Glass Shop. I had bought a coffee and a pastry and was quietly using my laptop in a corner. The barista had started his shift *after* I'd gotten there and made my purchase. As I was leaving, he practically shouted (with the obvious intent of publicly shaming me), "Hey man, if you want to use the WiFi, you gotta buy something next time." I just laughed and walked out. I don't think I'll be going back.


  • You are more mature than I, as I would have let him have it


  • I would imagine that Park Place Coffee is at a distinct disadvantage as a result of being owned by "observant" Jews: They close early on Friday, and are closed on Saturday.

    I would imagine it is tough to obtain the revenue necessary to pay the bills, with such a restriction.


  • whynot I just don't see any scenario where Park Place Coffee makes it. And that was before you told me that they shoot themselves in the foot by closing during some peak times.

    Invisible Lines, I'm pretty shocked that you had such an experience at Glass Shop! I would have, at the least, pointed out the fact that I bought something.


  • I'm not sure that being an observant Jewish business owner doesn't come with certain advantages. For starters, they might have a very generous lease.


  • They may have a generous lease...

    My commentary is largely limited to things I am privy to observing and learning.


  • newguy88 said:

    Invisible Lines, I'm pretty shocked that you had such an experience at Glass Shop! I would have, at the least, pointed out the fact that I bought something.


    Yeah, I was surprised. I'm not there often, but whenever I have gone it's always been a good, friendly experience. C'est la vie!


  • BobMarvin said:

    You guys north of Empire Blvd. are lucky. Down here in PLG we had no real coffee shop for many months after K-Dog closed in 2011 and again after Blue Roost closed; we finally have a good one once again since Tugboat opened a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if I could cope with actually having to CHOOSE :-)


    Perhaps a coffee choice in PLG is too tough because you once again have to choose between smoothie shops!


  • Is it unsympathetic to predict Coffee Bites ascends the rankings above after the alleged armed robbery?


  • It may be.

    I am just glad they are ok after the robbery, in part because I would feel really bad about creating a thread entitled "Coffee Shop Deathwatch", and then to have an employee of a local coffee shop literally killed or harmed.

    http://brooklynian.com/forum/prospect-heights/coffee-bites-robbed-today-feb-14-2013


  • Well, I would say your posting/announcing the unfortunate event from yesterday should serve as some notice to other coffee shops in the neighborhood. For that, you should not feel bad.

    I'm glad to hear nobody was hurt and I hope there aren't any repeat instances at other local businesses.

    I would have put Coffee Bites near the top of the list even prior to this robbery.


  • As a result of:

    1. Its proximity to 100 Dean St

    2. The food and Beer hall to be built on Bergen St.

    3. It's loyal customer base,

    I predict Crosby will survive and thrive.


  • Apparently, there was one coffeehouse for every 300 residents of London in 1700:

    http://www.ineedcoffee.com/03/english/

    So, you never know how many coffeeshops an area can support.

    Apparently 11238 has 24,525 people, and, while it's not quite conterminous with the region we're talking about here, that number still gives a rough estimate of one coffeeshop for every 2000 residents.


  • I think Park Place Coffee is gone. I was supposed to meet a friend there this morning. But he texted me and said they were closed.... at 10am on a weekday. I'm kinda of sad I liked that place! And I thought the coffee was getting better. :( At least Glass Shop is still alive and kicking!


  • Religious Jewish owners = closed for Passover. Bad for business, but hey—what do I know.


  • JoshB said:

    Religious Jewish owners = closed for Passover. Bad for business, but hey—what do I know.


    Hmm, my friend didn't mention a note or a sign on the door. But seeing how they close for the Sabbath this makes sense. With business decisions like this I maintain their not going to be open much longer.


  • I agree with JoshB.

    Readers, please note: Passover 2013 began in the evening of Monday, March 25 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, April 2.

    If they don't re-open tomorrow, we should be concerned.


  • Old news at this point, but Pacific Oasis Cafe has closed. I visited once, when I first moved to Dean St (I lived on Carroll St before then) and it was nice but I forgot to go back.

    I'm a fan of Crosby Coffee and CT Muffin, which have pretty different vibes but fill different needs.


  • Nouveau Vag is now called Nouveau Vague in case anyone didn't catch it


  • I thought it was changed to Nouvelle Vague? But I did notice that.


  • I would have preferred Novel Vag.

    As if hers was different than anyone else's.


  • It changed from Vag to Vague


  • I think the original name alone was the death of it. Changing it hasn't changed anything.

    Their coffee is undrinkable.


  • Pulp and Bean 2 (on Franklin near Union) appears ready to open.

    I also direct readers to this magazine's coverage of coffee shops around the city. They seem to be proliferating....

    http://narrative.ly/caffeinated-city/


  • I am hearing reports that Pulp and Bean 2 located at 832 Franklin (on the South side of EP) has opened.

    Has anyone gone there yet?

    old photo of storefront:



    photo:

    http://www.city-data.com/businesses/521388090-interlink-translation-svc-brooklyn-ny.html


  • As of yesterday, they looked like they had done everything but brew the coffee. When I passed by this morning, the grate was down, but I will check on my way home.


  • Who else is concerned by the recent changes Glass Shop is under going? I think they might end up closing it in favor of the Pete Zaaz part.


  • Once they have pizza, they may continue to serve coffee, but will no longer meet my definition of a coffee shop. Hence, I will propose to our reading audience that they are "dead".


  • Whynot I'd agree with that. It think at most a coffee shop serves doughnuts and other breakfast pastries. I just wonder if I was to go in there a few weeks after they make this transition would I receive the evil eye for only buying a cup of coffee?


  • Places on the list that have changed to the degree that they now give one the evil eye for merely ordering coffee are decidedly dead.


  • Glass Shop remains our favorite, and I know we're far from alone. I doubt it's going anywhere.


  • Chekhovian said:

    I know Skazzy is not a standard coffee shop, but the possibility of it closing (who has ever seen a person eating there?) will have a big impact on what drops off the original list. I can foresee that location on a busy intersection as very tempting to a franchise. Starbucks wouldn't be the only potential buyer.



    As of early July, Skazzy has now closed.


  • Ok, my next prediction = Nouvelle Vague.


  • eastbloc said:

    Glass Shop remains our favorite, and I know we're far from alone. I doubt it's going anywhere.


    I'd consider it one of my favorites too. I don't think it's going to close. But I'm not sure it will still be one of my favored coffee shops after it changes.


  • Near St John's and Franklin, a coffee shop named Nimba opened in mid July.

    http://www.brooklynian.com/forums/topic/space-at-st-johns-btwn-franklin-and-classon-coffee-shop?replies=9#post-770769

    A West African themed place.


  • October 16

    I have been given permission to reveal the news, but not the source:

    After being outbid over a year ago for the space presently occupied by Centanii, Starbucks is now in "final negotiations" with the landlord who owns the space formerly occupied by Climax (775 Franklin Avenue)

    The small coffee shops we have been jabbering about are going to have to adapt to survive....


  • Oh bleeep!


  • Coffee Bites on Washington seems far enough way that it is safe:



  • My friend off of Washington said the coffee is served close to burnt and the people working there are rude.


  • Coffee Bites seems pretty busy, and has now been there for several years.


  • I always found coffee bites employees ranging from friendly to emotionless (neither friendly or rude, just stone faced and robotic), which im fine with.

    The worst coffee place in terms of employees has been Sit & Wonder. Consistently douchey hipster, with the attitude that they're doing you a favor they're serving you, and seem annoyed. Joyce is a close second.


  • I don't have a problem with Starbucks opening on Franklin; however, I do hope they don't pull too many customers from small businesses like Nimba, Pulp & Bean, Little Zelda, Lily & Fig and Breukelen Coffee House.

    With an abundance of independent shops between E. Pkwy. and Park Place, Franklin Av. has no shortage of coffee spots. I just hope the addition of Starbucks doesn't force any of them to close. I imagine Starbucks being the go-to spot for visiting parents of the neighborhood's newer young inhabitants.


  • The existing coffee shops seem to be adding beer and wine, which gives them a slightly different market than Starbucks.

    Places like Lazy Ibis (originally conceived as a coffee shop) are becoming cafes instead.

    I learn things like this "early", but others have a much more vested interest in learning them before me.


  • Lazy Ibis = Little Zelda?

    I have it on good word that the Starbucks for Franklin will have, in the evening, local artisinal beers, indie band shows, and a thrift-shop/vinyl section in back. So I think they understand the target market and adapting. Kudos.


  • Lazy Ibis is a new place opening "soon"

    http://www.brooklynian.com/forums/topic/663-franklin-ave-next-to-latino-sports-club-formerly-a-bodegadeli-news

    Goldemi-

    The business model (?) pursued by Cool Pony is FAR FROM PROVEN. As a result of having more than one location, Starbucks will not participate in any such foolery.

    P.S. Cool Pony was effectively denied an alcohol permit, and if they continue to serve alcohol they could get in trouble....


  • Hmm, if Starbucks was having a Sixpoint or Elysian beer night would I go? Hmm... That is a tough one..

    I hope I'm not put in this position. If great breweries want to do tastings/exclusive events in our neighborhood, why wouldn't they work with Crown Inn/Franklin Park/Catfish, etc?


  • I think fears of Starbucks swallowing up all other businesses in the area (like bars) are greatly overstated.

    ...the smart businesses will avoid going against Starbucks head-to-head.


  • but i think mike, owner of little zelda, is the one behind lazy ibis, as was stated in the thread. if true, i dont get it...2 coffee shops a stones throw from eachother?

    Sbux: all can stay calm. lots of examples of sbux being the first chain store to open in 'cool' neighborhoods with character, thriving, and yet not being the storm petrel for applebees/mcdonalds/olivegarden that people here think.


  • Lazy Ibis is not being created by the same folks that run Little Zelda, Wedge, Hullabaloo and It Takes a Village.

    Lazy Ibis WAS going to be a coffee shop, and is owned by a guy with other coffee shops. However, upon seeing the competition evolve, he is going to create something more like a cafe.


  • I have it on good word that the Starbucks for Franklin will have, in the evening, local artisinal beers, indie band shows, and a thrift-shop/vinyl section in back. So I think they understand the target market and adapting.

    I find this hard to believe. You don't run a chain of this scale by changing things around in one-off fashion.


  • By "one-off", do you mean "flakey"?


  • Most recent plan by Cool Pony...upcoming backyard movie night with "possibly" a FIRE PIT. On the wooden patio. Genius. Not breaking any laws there, folks.

    Maybe Starbucks will have a fire pit? Can't imagine I'll go there often, but they do have reliably good iced tea.


  • I suspect that Starbucks has a Policy and Procedures Manual, and a regional management structure that prevents fires on wooden decks in combination with unauthorized alcohol sales/consumption.

    However, I am not certain. The next time I am in there buying a brownie, I'll try to get up the courage to ask.

    If they don't forbid such things, I might send them my resume.


  • eastbloc said:

    I have it on good word that the Starbucks for Franklin will have, in the evening, local artisinal beers, indie band shows, and a thrift-shop/vinyl section in back. So I think they understand the target market and adapting.

    I find this hard to believe. You don't run a chain of this scale by changing things around in one-off fashion.

    Duane Reade has tried to specialize their stores to fit the neighborhood (draft beer in at least a couple trendy Brooklyn/Manhattan locations). I'm trying to think of a couple more examples..

    The McLobster roll in New England? Haha, not sure that one fits.


  • I heard the Williamsburg ones tried to have this as thier branding, but corporate nixed the idea:



  • I can't wait to throw back beers with the regional corporate manager who just left their cube in midtown on their way home to Long Island. We can talk about how great it is in Crown Heights now that people are starting to "move here".


  • Based on the above, one might infer that Starbucks does not provide customers with the ability to "represent who they are" in the same way as some of the area's current venues.

    Needless to say, much of this representation is ascribed, rather than sought.

    On second thought, I guess that depends on the individual.

    ....just tell me which one the people I shouldn't like patronize, that way I can know. K Thx


  • Indeed I was kidding about the Starbucks plans. Although when I lived in Santa Monica there was a coffee bean and tea leaf that did have a fire pit in front. The beauty about sbux as noted above is consistency. Likely no extreme measures will be taken to hipsterize it


  • There is no reason to hipsterize a business on Franklin Ave at this point.

    The yuppies are rapidly pricing the hipsters out, and telling them that the norms have changed. Starbucks arrival is just another step in the process.


  • Oct 30, 2013

    Meanwhile, on Washington Avenue, a smaller coffee shop chain has opened a location: Konditori

    http://brooklynian.com/forum/prospect-heights/konditori-swedish-cafe-on-washington#post-773948


  • I'm a bit disappointed by this news, it feels like the Manhattanization of the neighborhood. Regardless of how much so, it will take dollars away from smaller, locally owned joints.

    On another note, I disagree with some of the previous criticism about the staff at Coffee Bites and Sit & Wonder. I am by no means a daily customer, but I've always received good to great service (with no douchey attitude detected).


  • Konditori is more yuppie-Brooklynization-- they only have one Manhattan location.


  • Oh, I was referring to the Starbucks on Franklin as the potential Manhattanization of the neighborhood, not Konditori.


  • Dec 11th:

    Am I the only one who is amazed that since this thread started, we have only added coffee shops?

    None have yet to die.


  • So Glass Shop is dead to us right?

    Tis interesting that not a single one has bite the bullet.


  • Glass Shop is being annexed by Pete Zaaz, so it is certainly no longer a Coffee shop during the hours one can (will be able to....) get a pizza.


  • My understanding is that it will still be a coffee shop during the day.


  • Yeah, I was just there this morning. It will remain a coffee shop during the day. In the eve, it will be seating for the restaurant. Hallway linking the two.


  • So, so far, one of the coffee shops has dropped to part time status. But all others survive.


  • Thanks Jake!


  • Just my thoughts on a few of these places.* I've been leading writing workshops in the neighborhood coffee shops/cafes for over 10 years, and the owner/staff at Coffee Bites have been incredibly supportive and nice, and have allowed us to use the upstairs loft area every week since the time they have opened for our meetings. They have even stayed open late for us many times. Also, Soraya, the owner, seems active in the community, cares about the neighborhood, and has given to the community in several ways that I know about and is really kind and sweet. This is one of my favorite cafes.* Although I think Nimba has a good shot at succeeding (great staff, love the decor, good food and coffee) on several occasions I have arrived only to find them unexpectedly closed. I really really hope they can stay open, because I love this place. I love the art/photography, the people, the vibe. Maybe they can get a beer/wine license if that will help. *On Wed. when my new writing group showed up for our first meeting at Nimba only to find it closed, we were welcomed at Lazy Ibis and had a fantastic first night. Although it is small and might be difficult for a larger group to meet, I love the romantic, intimate mood here. Nice for first dates, as well as to get work done. The food is amazing, and I like their tea. When I wanted chai tea and they didn't have any, the owner created a homemade one for me using spices and it was incredible. I really like Flannery (who looks like a goddess from a medieval romance novel) as well as both Raphaels. The only reason I would be okay with a Starbucks opening in the area is because, as a grad student, I appreciate that they only charge 50 cents for coffee refills. Sometimes I need to budget instead of spending $10-$20 a day at a cafe and work in libraries instead. However, I would feel crappy sitting in any of "our" neighborhood cafes all day just sipping 50cent refills, while I secretly love doing that at Starbucks, sort of getting back at them. I actually like spending $ at the cafes in our area because in some small way I'm able to contribute/support them since they add so much to our neighborhood. When I moved here I knew very few of my neighbors. Today, I know many more people I've met in these coffee shops/cafes. Thanks guys!