Walking into Java Girl feels like coming home. In addition to the cafe being host to a friendly assortment of mismatched cushions, a cuckoo clock, an antique mirror, and other objects of curiosity, this was my go-to shop when I lived on East 67th Street. My friends and family members knew that I did not own a coffee pot and therefore we always had to stop by this neighborhood favorite. I was thrilled to be revisiting an old haunt, and on this particular day, I chose a seat in the window nook, settling in for a chat with Java Girl herself.
In the mid-nineties, Linda Rizutto was working for a major retailer, wondering what it was that she wanted to do next. She would sit in a coffee shop with her journal and contemplate her options. "And then the opportunity came," Linda told me. In 1998, the west half of Java Girl became available for rent. Linda decided to take her own journey as inspiration, and create a coffee shop that would give other people the space and time to think about their lives. In 2001, Linda expanded into the second half of the cafe. "It created what I was dreaming of, and that was a place to let people come and decompress, whether it's for twenty minutes or two hours."
Linda truly is the "Java Girl." She has crafted an amazingly diverse selection of coffee offerings, each 100% Arabica and hand-picked, from the volcanic soil of Mount Kilimanjaro to the fertile Costa Rican rainforest. Java Girl's exotic beans are all roasted locally by third generation roasters in Long Island City and the flavored coffees are done so by hand without any chemical processing.
Not only does Linda know coffee, she also has a well-curated and enticing selection of gourmet loose-leaf teas, some of which are blended in-house. In the mornings, her oatmeal smoothie is a popular choice and hearty kickstart to the day.
Over the years, Linda's customers have become regulars, allowing her to develop strong relationships with many of them. On the day that I stopped by, Linda had purchased flowers for someone who had recently lost a family member. "We've also celebrated marriages and babies," Linda proudly shared. Clearly more than just a coffee shop - Java Girl is a community. And a community is really what Linda set out to create. "I didn't have a business plan, I just had this idea... and it worked."
The Jeffrey is a chameleon: it morphs from being a coffee shop in the early morning hours, to a cafe with sandwiches and craft beer by day, to a chic cocktail bar by night. There is something for everyone, which probably explains the origin of the name – "Everybody loves a Jeffrey, " from the film, Get Him to the Greek. Between the morning rush and lunchtime, I pulled up one of the stools at the high wood tables in the back area of the restaurant and had a chat with owner, Patrick Donagher. I quickly learned that he comes to this venture with firsthand experience having been raised in his family's bar in Ireland since the age of six. Patrick has essentially been living and breathing this business all of his life and he seems to have learned the craft and perfected it to a tee. He also happens to be an electrician, and was, therefore, able to do most of the construction for the Jeffrey himself. This was no small feat, since the space used to be a pet store. Patrick relayed the story of when the beams collapsed on him during the renovation, and he was stuck underneath them for four hours. After that, he reinforced everything. One of the Jeffrey's greatest strengths is its devotion to local businesses - their wine list is 100% from Long Island. Many of their craft beers come from New York, and are made at breweries that rarely distribute outside their hometown. The Jeffrey works to debunk a lot of myths, especially the assumption that many American beers "taste like dirty water. " Patrick feels that his vast variety of craft beers proves that the U. S. offers an exciting spectrum of brewed flavor. I also spent time speaking with Alex, the charming barista, who demonstrated his impressive creativity by allowing members of the Manhattan Sideways team to taste one of the many syrups that he has created. His Caje Toso includes caramel spray, whiskey, and goat milk, a combination that has the ability to turn the simplest cup of coffee into a decadent treat. He has also had fun developing combinations of stuffed breakfast sandwiches, and many drink concoctions, like the Pinot Noir Caramel Macchiato, made from a caramelized wine reduction. The class and attention to detail provided by the Jeffrey is a blessing for the neighborhood – it is far from being a dive bar, as Patrick explained. Instead it is a place for people who want to taste good beer and where the locals appreciate the warm, friendly environment and communal tables. There is no doubt that the growing group of regulars has put The Jeffrey on the map as a neighborhood haunt. On a subsequent visit one Saturday afternoon, I was pleased to see that every seat was taken, yet the noise level was not too high as everyone was simply enjoying a glass of beer or mulled wine and appreciating being indoors on a very cold winter day. I would not be surprised, thanks to The Jeffrey, if the very east side of 60th becomes a fashionable neighborhood. The employees have already coined a name for it – DUQBO, Down Under Queensboro Bridge Overpass.
"Padoca" is what a neighborhood bakery is called in Brazil, but the nickname holds a lot more meaning than can be translated. As the people behind the bakery on East 68th explain, a padoca is the bakery that is an extension of one's family, where everyone knows each other's name and where the treats and the people are tightly wound up in childhood nostalgia. Padoca Bakery wants to recreate that friendly bakery-down-the-block feeling for New Yorkers.
Lovely classical music plays in the background of The Juilliard Store, home to official apparel, recordings, and books on all things drama, dance, and music. A children’s section is dedicated to recognizing the potential of young artists with baby bibs reading “little soprano” or “little tenor. ” The fun and whimsy continues with bags of music note-shaped pasta surrounded by an array of notebooks and coffee mugs. However, the gift shop is most recognized as being one of largest brick and mortar sheet music stores in the world. It is frequented by tourists, music-appreciators, and, of course, students of the Juilliard School.
In 1895, Slovakian immigrants originally founded the St. John Church on East 4th Street to be both a community center and a place of worship. However, as its congregation continued to grow and move uptown, it made sense for the Roman Catholic church to do the same. Since 1925, the Church of St. John Nepomucene has taken residence on 66th Street.
A Roman Catholic parish dedicated in May of 1918, the Church of St. Vincent is considered to be one of the most spectacular architectural buildings in Manhattan. In 1867, the first Cardinal in America, John McCloskey, requested that the Dominican Fathers and Brothers find a home in Manhattan. Mass was held in a small building on East 66th Street in that same year. A few months later, work began on the Gothic church that was completed in 1879. In 1914, however, it was decided to construct a new building, which stands here today. Above the main entrance is a magnificent carving of a crucifixion scene by Lee O. Lawrie. Guastivino acoustic tiling allows the preacher’s voice to project, and each glass window was placed opposite one of complementary colors so as to be highlighted fully in the sunlight. In August of 2015, the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena was established, forming a connection between this church and the Church of St. Catherine of Siena on East 68th Street.