Gourmet coffee shop set to be neighorhood’s first
Bruckner Blvd. below 138th Street has been attracting businesses and locals for years.
Joseph Diaz, General Manager of the Mott Haven Bar and Grill, says it is because of the area’s community-friendly atmosphere.
“This area does have a sense of community,” he said. “We started the trend with a sense of community 13 years ago.”
Karen Paul and Aaron Baird are aiming to continue the trend by opening Filtered Coffee, Mott Haven’s first gourmet coffee shop on 134th St. Paul and Baird say that their ultimate goal is to provide a community gathering space for Mott Haven.
“There are no real independent, third-wave coffee shops in the area. There was an opening in the market where we could fill that niche,” Paul said.
Paul and Baird, who own multiple coffee shops in New York City, believe that Filtered Coffee is equipped to be the next local hot spot because of its size, location, and its homey interior.
Although Paul and Baird receive emails every day about potential locations, they seized on this particular space as soon as they saw it. Both were attracted to the shape of the space, as it is a lot larger than the other locations.
“A lot of our spaces are very bowling alley, and this one is more square. It just seemed like a place you want to hang out all day,” Baird said.
The shop will feature a skylight, a vintage sofa, and ornate artwork completed by a local artist. The color scheme is mostly neutral, consisting of black, tan, wood and grey tones. A red espresso machine will serve as the shop’s sole pop of color.
Locals like Daniel Fitzgibbons and Maaji Nishizake are excited for a new local hangout spot.
“I’m looking forward to a place where we can chill and go in the morning,” said Fitzgibbons, a bartender at Charlie’s Bar and Grill.
Nishizake, a cab driver, feels that the atmosphere of a local shop will inspire the community.
“It encourages people to be themselves and it also encourages people to come out more and to be inspired,” she said. “It’s good to have coffee, but it’s also good to be inspired.”
Yvette Cardona, a barista at the Starbucks on 161st St., was also excited to hear about the opening of Filtered Coffee. Despite working at the most ubiquitous coffee chain, Cardona has an appreciation for local brews.
She used to live in New Jersey, where she would visit a gourmet shop almost every day. She loved the sense of camaraderie it created within her town, and attended the events that the shop would host.
“The coffee shop that I used to go to had open mic nights,” Cardona explained. “That’s something that’s very needed, because no one else knows where to go for that.”
Paul and Baird plan to create a welcoming atmosphere by hosting open mic nights, book clubs and poetry readings at the new venue, saying that people will want to go for the experience and the sense of comfort.
“Literally they are community living rooms,” Paul said.
One customer was so accustomed to the Harlem location that he once had a courier deliver his mail to the shop rather than his house.
Baird just laughed, saying, “We make people feel comfortable, that’s for sure.”
Neither Paul and Baird never thought they would end up owning a business. Paul has her Master’s in art history, while Baird is a classically trained musician. They say that whenever they open up a new shop, like the Mott Haven location, they become better businesspeople.
“Each shop is just like a classroom,” Baird said. “We’re always learning every day.”