The Coffee Shop Happenings Thread
  • 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 has allowed us to use the upstairs loft area every week for our meetings since Coffee Bites opened. 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 donated/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. And there's always great background music. 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!
  • Nimba was recently closed as a result of a broken heating system. They are now open again.http://www.brooklynian.com/forums/topic/is-nimba-cafe-closed/#post-608951
  • I popped in to Kaffee JAC on Nostrand and Prospect Pl a couple of weeks ago the Sunday they opened, however I live on that corner and haven't seen the place open since then so it might've been a soft opening. The couple there offered me a free coffee (a little too heavy/strong for me) but they were nice people so I'll give it another try. Pretty cozy inside. They also sell pastries and sandwiches.
    Edit: I guess JAC is open for good (maybe outside of the hours I happen to walk by) seeing there are already yelp reviews up.
  • ah, the one opening in the former ice cream place, Bk Scoops
  • In the event that Starbucks is able to open in the new EP-Franklin bldg (as opposed to the Climax storefront ), Pulp and Bean will morph into something else, rather than try to compete.

    We should know within a few weeks.
  • Tony had told me that he was already considering getting rid of P&B.  It's more work than money. 
  • What's going on with Kaffee JAC? I pass it almost daily and have yet to see it opened.
  • It has had sporadic (at best) hours since it first opened.
  • Word on the street, from an employee at a local business, is JAC probably closed since they haven't really been open in months. I think they were open a week or two in January but that's it. I live on the corner and never seen it open except for their first day. I doubt lack of business was their reason for closing so quickly, probably had some other issues.
  • Glass Shop was locked when I walked by it at noon yesterday, didn't seem like it was opening any time soon.
  • Glass shop is merging with Pete Zaaz. Not sure how much of a coffee place it will remain.
  • So far it still feels separate during the day
  • Can we get an updated list from the original with closings and new entrants? I can't keep track...
  • SBUX will be the next addition, and I predict Nouvelle Vague the next closing. It's too bad, I think the owner has fun taste, and in the right space with the right partner might have made a better go of it.   
  • It's not a list, but I updated the map: http://workdaytools.com/coffeemap/

    image
  • Hold on, I'll add my two cents....
  • Apologies for the layout issues.

    Yes, when I volunteered to keep track of the coffee shops, I did not expect the next year to be as active as the prior year. Let's start out with the original list in the OP, and work forward from there:


    1.  Novelle Vag: On Lincoln, near Classon.   Presumably, in response to too many people asking
    questions like "Are you closed once a month?" and stating things like "this place doesn't smell as fishy as I thought it might", this place is now known as Novelle Vague. It is a small venue, and seems to struggle to attract a crowd. It is not in a location with a lot of foot traffic.


    2.  Park Place Coffee: On Park Pl, near Franklin    This place seems to be doing ok, despite being closed on Friday evenings and on Saturday.  Lots of people seem to stop in here to get an unpretentious cup of coffee on their way to work.  Some people hang out.


    3.   Pulp and Bean: On Franklin, near EP.  It continues to do a good business, but may morph into an ice cream place if Starbucks opens in an adjacent building.    Not much
    space to hang out.    Get your coffee, on the way to or from the train.


    4.   Breukelyn: On Franklin, near St Johns.  Now has beer and wine.    A big area for people with
    laptops.   I have also overhead people meeting here who appear to be on
    first dates. It may make as much revenue from beer and wine as it
    does coffee.  Should it still be on this list? 


    5.  Little Zeldas: On Franklin, near Sterling.  A very specific demographic uses this coffee shop, and likes to see and be seen on the little tables in front.    I suspect it
    is popular with liberal arts majors who went to private colleges.   It
    seems to be selling a lot of coffee and wine given its very small
    storefront.   Very productive use of space.


    6.  Glass Shop: On Classon, near St, Johns.  This place is in the process of merging with Pete Zaaz, a decidedly artisanal pizza place. On more than one occasion, I have
    witnessed Pete Zaaz being occupied exclusively by men, and Glass Shop
    exclusively by females. This merger may result in some flirting
    between the two groups, and the loss of Glass Shop's identity as a
    coffee shop.    Just call them both Pete Zaaz and be done with it.  


    7.  Crosby: On Classon, near Bergen.   This place is regularly full, and has lots of spaces for
    daytime laptop users.    During the day, new mothers bring their
    children here.   Both groups might get along.     


    8.  Penny House Cafe: On Washington, near Park Pl.   Very productive use of a small space. People stop here on their way to/from work, but it is too small to have a tribe.


    9.  Washington Bagel Cafe: On Washington, near Dean.   Bagels, coffee and atmosphere are not at the level of the competition.    It seems to survive as a result of the nearby car
    services and merchants.    I'm not sure if it would survive a rent increase,
    yet I predict a rent increase is likely...    Heads up!


    10.  Sit and Wonder: On Washington, near St Marks.  Popular with the stroller and laptop folks.   It seems to have a tribe of people who come there regularly.    


    11.  Coffee Bites: On Washington, near St. Johns.  Very productive use of a small space. People stop here on their way to/from work, but it is too small to have a tribe.   Has better brownies than Penny House.


    12.  Richol Cafe: On Nostrand, near Pacific.  Fancy pastries.    Very popular.   I think they sell more pastries than coffee.   The pastries are good enough to bring to work meetings.


    13.  Pacific Oasis Cafe: On Pacific, near Nostrand.  Now closed.


    14.  CT Muffin: On Nostrand, near Bergen.  Thriving.    Sometimes the lines are little longer than the smaller places, but is relatively inexpensive.


    New Additions:


    15.  Nimba:   Off Franklin, on St. Johns.   Seems popular.   Has entertainment during the evenings, but I don’t think it has beer or wine.


    16.  Café Allegria:   On St Marks, new Franklin.   Has outdoor eating, beer, and makes its own bagels.    One can get a turkey sandwich.    This is not a place to see and be seen, but is a practical place to get a meal and coffee.   I’m not sure it is a coffee shop.


    17.  Chocolatte:    Kingston and EP.   Is clear that this place is competing in the league as the others.   Has a large Orthodox Jewish customer base.


    18.   Kaffee Jac:  Propsect Place near Nostrand .  Affiliated with a now gone ice cream place, BK Scoop.   Unclear business plan.   Seems to be open only sporadically.


    19.  Dunkin Donuts, Nostrand and EP.   Same as their other locations throughout the city.


    20.  Anthony’s Corner Café, St John’s and Utica.    Brand new.   I haven’t been there yet, or even walked by.


    21.   Starbucks, coming to either EP and Franklin or St Johns and Franklin.  It will be like every other location throughout the world, but might have a few pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge on the wall.


    22.  Nostrand Ave Bagels, Pacific and Nostrand.  Seems to be doing ok.   Could use some decorations on the walls.   Friendly service.   Puffy bagels.    


    23.  Rogers’s Coffeeshop, Rogers and Union.  Brand new.    No info yet.


    24.  Pulp and Bean II, Franklin and Union.  Not as busy as P&B 1, but seems to be doing ok.


    25.   Tinto, about to open on Nostrand in the building with the chalices (near Sterling). Lots of anticipation on this thread:
    http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/43826/another-coffee-shop-for-nostrand-tinto-715-nostrand-near-sterling/p1


    26.  Crown Heights Coffee, Sterling and Schenectady.    Not open yet.     http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/39142/omg-a-coffee-shop-is-coming-to-schenectady-at-sterling


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

  • Cool! You listed Anthony's Corner Cafe as new, there's a yelp review from 2010 so it looks likes it been there for a while?
  • Yea, that's a clear error.   My knowledge of Crown Heights decreases as I go east.    I rarely walk my dog that far.     I cheated and used Yelp.

    I also wish to point out that I left out Lazy Ibis (Franklin and St Marks) because I think of it as a place to eat WITH good coffee.   Hence, it is not a coffee shop by my definition.
  • Lula Bagel?
  • I suppose Lula is no less of a coffee shop than some of the others.  27.

    I give them points for choosing an excellent location, right at the SBS stop. The location is too small to develop a laptop tribe, but they seem to sell lots of baked things.

    Brooklynian posters @tsarina and @clayfilms shop there.
  • Ms Whynot points out I forgot Konditori, a new place on Washington Ave near St. Marks.  28.    http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/38959/konditori-swedish-cafe-on-washington/p1

    There seems to be laptop people in there, but I don't know that I would call them a tribe.
  • Not a tribe, as it's usually individuals working (like me when I've been there). Nice enough space in front and back. Friendly employees. Solid coffee and selection of carbs.
  • Since you have expanded the list eastward past Nostrand from the original post, there are two old-school, lunch counter-type coffee shops on Kingston: Bobby's Coffee Shop on the corner of St. Johns and Jenny's Coffee Shop on the corner of Sterling. Neither is a laptop kind of place, though both have solid tribes of regulars. And I'm not sure if they meet your definition, since both are about food more than coffee. But then again they do both have "coffee shop" in their titles. 
  • ^ 29 and 30^

    Yes, my definition of coffee shop is problematic. 

    Regardless, this list of places that are come close to or actually meet my definition, kinda blows my mind. 

    For simplicity, let's stop tracking them at Utica.
  • FYI: Crosby Coffee has removed/rearranged seating and will start serving food. 
  • April 3, 2014: Park Place Coffee (near Franklin) and #2 above, has an official sign on its door:

    Closed By Order of DOH, For Operating Without A Permit. 

    Ouch. Hopefully they are able to resolve that soon.
  • Maybe because their yard still had crap all over
  • Oh no! I really like Park Place Coffee. That's truly bizzare they they never got a permit.
  • It could be that their permit merely expired.

  • whynot_31 said:

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




    I you think of it , i would like to see your updated list of coffee shops in the area. Pacific Oasis is gone, but a new bagel shop opened around corner on Nostrand.
  • oh, just saw the new list. i only just found this thread. Great list, i need to try a few new places now.
  • Anyone know what the hell is going on with Nimba? I know they had some water pressure problems over a week ago, but they have been closed ever since with no clear signage of when they'll be open again. Really nervous they will be closing for good, this was my favorite cafe in the neighborhood,
  • You are not alone. I just woke up this thread as a result: http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/39242/is-nimba-cafe-closed
  • Nimba was closed today still.

    I asked a worker at Exquisite if she knew anything about Z'Bar Cafe next door which hasn't yet opened. She had "no idea what's going on with that place."
  • ....we were going to have our Brooklynian Spring Happy Hour at Z Bar but clearly need to rethink this.
  • Update: The happy hour will occur after the walking tour on May 4th.

    http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/43995/ms-whynot-and-whynot-lead-a-walking-tour-of-western-crown-heights-sunday-may-4th-noon-/p1

    Please resume talking about coffee shops.
  • It's a weak list.  Good, don't blow up our spots.
  • I believe Park Place Coffee and NImba have now been closed for the last month.

    Kaffee Jak arguably is open as much as it has been since it opened, which seems to be 5 random hours a week.
  • Nimba's landlord is allegedly not the "kindest", according to a few people I've spoken with close to the situation, and I believe Eric et al are in the process of taking him to court for shutting off their water after he demanded a rent increase and they did not acquiesce. Don't quote me on the details there but I would assume Nimba will be back at some point in the near future after this legal crap gets cleared up. It's a great spot when it's fully functioning though so don't give up on it yet.
  • It might not qualify as a coffee shop per se, but I think of Lily & Fig on Franklin between Park & Sterling as a coffee shop, even though they are more of a bakery. I don't think they do espresso beverages, but their drip coffee is good (better than average for neighborhood coffee shops, imo), they have a large tea collection, and their pastries are better than most of the neighboring coffee shops. 
  • Nimba's landlord is allegedly not the "kindest", according to a few people I've spoken with close to the situation, and I believe Eric et al are in the process of taking him to court for shutting off their water after he demanded a rent increase and they did not acquiesce. Don't quote me on the details there but I would assume Nimba will be back at some point in the near future after this legal crap gets cleared up. It's a great spot when it's fully functioning though so don't give up on it yet.



    Yup. This is what I have heard as well. I am going to add your post to the Nimba thread.

    http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/39242/is-nimba-cafe-closed#Item_10
  • whynot_31 said:

    I believe Park Place Coffee and NImba have now been closed for the last month.



    Park Place Coffee has some boxes stacked up against the windows and I haven't seen a soul in there. I think it's dead.

  • pierpont said:

    It might not qualify as a coffee shop per se, but I think of Lily & Fig on Franklin between Park & Sterling as a coffee shop, even though they are more of a bakery. I don't think they do espresso beverages, but their drip coffee is good (better than average for neighborhood coffee shops, imo), they have a large tea collection, and their pastries are better than most of the neighboring coffee shops. 



    Lily spoke with the walking tour I led in the neighborhood on May 4th, and gave us yummy cookies. She likely earned several customers.

  • whynot_31 said:

    pierpont said:

    Lily spoke with the walking tour I led in the neighborhood on May 4th, and gave us yummy cookies. She likely earned several customers.



    I'm happy to hear it, I'm very fond of that place. I always feel guilty when I buy my bread elsewhere.
  • Nouvelle Vague to close by June 1st. The owner cited a dispute with her landlord. 
  • I really feel for the woman.  She's nice, but often seemed a little down.  I guess I'd be too if business was so slow.  I still like the idea of a new-wave coffee shop...maybe she could have partnered with someone with more experience or sense to do a better build-out.
  • This thread is a shame. Its identical in tone to a horse race. When a person decides to keep a business open or not is a life changing decision with enormous affects on all involved. My best wishes go out to all business owners who struggle with these decisions daily, I know I have.
    Right now I am debating to keep TP&TB open or not. With the coming of Starbucks I am asking myself if I should stay open, change format, or rent the spot. This is not an easy decision. There are loyal employees and customers who appreciate and depend on TP&TB and I would hate to not be there for them.
  • Tony, I think this thread is maybe a bit different than a horse race in that here, as far as I can tell, we're not necessarily rooting for a winner or loser.  No cheering when one fails.  It is however, as residents of the neighborhood, interesting to keep track with the pace of change, and what comes/goes and trying to understand the underlying reasons why.  

    Hopefully other's learn from the 'reasons why', and don't repeat the same mistakes.  Too often something opens up in the same space where something similar failed, and you wish the people had done some homework.  Though sometimes a small tweak makes all the difference.  Businesses are a weird and difficult thing.

    I hear you that a business is not a faceless thing.  There are humans behind it, often putting in everything they have and taking a risk, and employees' livelihoods at stake as well.  Hopefully people understand that and don't root for a business to close (there are exceptions though when some deserve to).


  • This thread is a shame. Its identical in tone to a horse race.


    Insulting or attacking people on this forum I.E. your customers might not be the best way to attract business.
  • When a business is floundering, the owner and its employees need to look at what thriving businesses are doing and see if they can replicate it.

    Often, they can't.

    NYC is a big city:

    - If the firms that are forced to close had talented, skilled employees, they will find work quickly elsewhere.

    - Customers of closed venues will go to similar ones.

    - If the firm had a good location, it will be quickly rented to another entrepreneur who chases their dreams.


  • newguy88 said:

    whynot_31 said:

    I believe Park Place Coffee and NImba have now been closed for the last month.



    Park Place Coffee has some boxes stacked up against the windows and I haven't seen a soul in there. I think it's dead.



    The deaths of Nimba and Prospect Place Coffee leave behind pretty prime spaces.

    Nouvelle Vague's space is less prime.
  •  Right now I am debating to keep TP&TB open or not. With the coming of Starbucks I am asking myself if I should stay open, change format, or rent the spot. This is not an easy decision. There are loyal employees and customers who appreciate and depend on TP&TB and I would hate to not be there for them.



    I hope you stick around and I wish you the best. I know for a fact that if TP&TB had more seating that more people would come. 
  •  Right now I am debating to keep TP&TB open or not. With the coming of Starbucks I am asking myself if I should stay open, change format, or rent the spot. This is not an easy decision. There are loyal employees and customers who appreciate and depend on TP&TB and I would hate to not be there for them.



    Just now seeing this, but - and I'm no huge fan of chain stores of any kind - I really think TP&TB will benefit from Starbucks going in.   (TP&TB South is a daily morning stop for me before catching the train to work.)

    Starbucks will increase the foot traffic on the TP&TB North block.  It will draw people up Franklin but also over from other avenues.  Locals will still know TP&TB and go there over a chain.  But TP&TB will also pick up some of the new foot traffic in the area... much of which will come from people not necessarily destined for Starbucks each time but just naturally frequenting the Franklin @ EP area more often once Starbucks trips have planted thought of the area in their brains...

    None of this is to say a coffee shop is the most profitable use of the space... there may be a better option... I have no idea and nothing in mind here... good luck in whatever route you choose... and here's hoping that route is a second B&B at Franklin and Union... :-)
  • To the owner of TP&B:
    Many folks in the hood have expressed the need/want for a local pastry shop/bakery (sort of a little old-school Italian bakery style, perhaps....) where one could pick up great breads, pastries/canolis (yum), cakes, tarts, cheesecakes, & perhaps fresh cookies by the pound to pick up if you are hosting a dinner or going to someone's home for dinner and need to bring some nicely wrapped desserts, for example. Although my understanding is that Lily & Fig theoretically might be the go-to spot for this, believe me, I have tried them and several other shops many times when headed to friends for dinner, and for some reason L&F are always closed before dinner-hour and everyone else only has hard leftover croissants from breakfast-time....Not a good dessert option. And...The closest possibility to fill this need might be Joyce but we could surely use a much closer grab and go yummy bakery/pastry/dessert-type-option here on Franklin Ave, if you are open to shifting focus and if you might be able to find some yummy suppliers. Just an idea about a local need that might be worth considering...
  • Tony Fisher, if you must close Pulp & Bean, maybe you'd consider expanding Bob & Betty's into the P&B space? You could put in a fresh deli counter where you could still stock your yummy bagels and offer cold cuts, deli sandwiches, hot food to go, etc.? Or just expand Bob & Betty's to include a few extra shelves of products your customers have asked for that you haven't had room to add. Just a thought.
  • Or...just thought of this...perhaps you could become the local creperie w/ both sweet and savory crepe options and perhaps quiches too....and you continue to do coffee & tea with crepes or slices of quiche...both are a great breakfast, lunch or light dinner option ..and who doesn't love a yummy crepe or quiche...??? In terms of product, it would completely differentiate you from Starbucks (and all the oher local coffee spots, for that matter...), and it would give folks a definite reason to want to come specifically to you any time.of day, whether they want a sweet treat or a light meal... Just tying to keep the thinking cap on as I'm sympathetic to your concerns about the big boys coming to town..Local bakery or creperie, I think either way would be a great and lucrative option...
  • Anyone have the scuttlebutt on Glass Shop? They've been closed during prime business hours every time I've walked by this week.
  • At one point, the Pete Zaaz pizza folks next door had plans to take over Glass Shop to create additional seating.

    If this is now happening, Glass shop can be effectively deemed "dead".
  • I don't know if it's possible to change thread titles, but I agree with Tony's earlier comments... the thread title almost makes it sound like we are hoping for coffee shop closures.  If I were an owner like Tony I would share his frustration at that.  Maybe it was originally a "death watch" thread, but it has really ended up just being a local coffee shop happenings thread. I'd hate for other owners to turn away from contributing to the thread by perceiving it as Tony did.

    Just a thought.
  • I am pretty indifferent.

    but....

    What is wrong with hoping that the area gets a more diverse business mix?

    What is wrong with advising businesses that if they do not differentiate themselves they will perish?

    What is wrong with looking forward to the new businesses that will replace those that don't adapt?
  • whynot_31 said:

    I am pretty indifferent.

    but....

    What is wrong with hoping that the area gets a more diverse business mix?

    What is wrong with advising businesses that if they do not differentiate themselves they will perish?

    What is wrong with looking forward to the new businesses that will replace those that don't adapt?



    There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism... but rooting for places to fail is a different story.  There may have been some of that in the thread, but overall that hasn't been the tone of the thread... it's a good discussion... the title was just misleading and could be off-putting for local owners.

    Not a big deal... but thanks for the change.  I think the new title better fits the more positive nature of the thread.
  • It would not surprise me if one of the now closed coffeeshops (Park Place Coffee, NIMBA, Nouvelle Vague or Kaffe Jak) is reborn as a Mexican-influenced food restaurant.

    Then, we will be approaching the point where we have "too many" Mexican food restaurants, and a similar thread may be appropriate.

    Like the coming Starbuck's, maybe Chipolte or Chili's will open a location, and accelerate the process.
  • Glass Shop (located on Classon, near St. Johns) was supposed to become part of Pete Zaaz.    Now, it appears that both are about to disappear.