Named for a 17th century European coffee house, the Blue Bottle is nothing if not traditional when it comes to coffee. These days, the company has expanded into a network of roasters, cafés, carts, and kiosks. Despite their success, each location still roasts in vintage machines and uses eco-friendly materials, serving the brew within 48 hours of roasting. Set up on two floors of the Milk Building’s former loading dock, the first floor offers no-nonsense coffee - expect espresso, macchiatos, cappuccino, caffe lattes and mochas, brewed tea, and Blue Bottle roast blends. Siphon coffee makers and Nel flannel filters prep the coffee drinks, and pastries are locally sourced from Amy's Bakery. With a flair for the old-fashioned, an eye for organic, pesticide free ingredients, and the passion needed to provide unadulterated coffee experiences to customers, The Blue Bottle stands out as a true-blue haven for caffeine aficionados.
Coffee is an essential ingredient in the everyday lives of many New Yorkers, and Richard Agudelo, the owner of Terremoto, takes this fact very seriously. He only provides single origin, best trade coffee, which means that he knows exactly where his coffee is coming from.In sitting down to discuss his business with him, I learned that he owns fifty percent of a coffee farm in Colombia, which allows him to have a close relationship with the people who grow his coffee and to ensure that the end result is the highest possible quality. “We know our farmers, milk purveyors, water suppliers, everything. We make sure that it is locally-sourced as much as possible - everything down to our grill.”Richard, who is also a creative director, has always loved coffee. After several years of research, he finally decided to open Terremoto on 15th Street in 2016, recognizing that this particular neighborhood "needed a place for high-quality coffee.” Terremoto, which means earthquake in Spanish, is named in part after Richard. He spent his summers as a child staying with his uncles in Colombia, who often called out in Spanish, “Look, the earthquake arrives” upon his entrance. “I was a handful,” Richard admitted. Laughing, he added, "Our caffeinated drinks will wake you up, just like an earthquake."Terremoto first made headlines for its famous espresso machine, which is covered in twenty-four carat gold. While the machine is certainly flashy, Richard said that he decided to buy it to serve as an homage to the original espresso makers from the early twentieth century. They were similarly plated in metal, usually copper or brass. In order to add a little twist, Richard decided to buy one covered in gold.Terremoto serves a wide variety of classic espresso-based drinks and a number of specialty teas. Richard donates twenty percent of the revenue generated from three of these drinks to charity: the Purple Rain, a lavender and vanilla based drink, the Space Oddity, a rose and vanilla based drink, and the Terremoto, a dulce de leche beverage. He has worked with various artists throughout his career, hence the references to famous songs. He donates to Music Cares and to a variety of emergency relief funds. Richard shared with me that he was a first responder at 9/11. He lived three blocks from the site, and grabbed a respirator from the hardware store below his apartment before going to help shovel out the debris. He has remained committed to helping other emergency relief efforts, having donated money to the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Indonesia.Terremoto’s 15th Street location was his first, but Richard has already expanded to Brooklyn with the hope of continuing to open more shops while providing high quality, single origin coffee.
The store is a mosaic in itself. Denes Petoe, CEO, and Graham Barr, president, have laid out their showroom to facilitate the nearly 1,000 varieties of natural stone, as well as to capture the eye of each customer. Style here is in the eye of the beholder, not in the hands of the retailer.
“I really want families to play together. That’s my goal in the store,” said Christina Clark, who has been wowing parents, grandparents, and, most importantly, children for decades with her wonderland of toys and games.Christina worked in a toy store as a young mother and realized she had found her calling. She opened Kidding Around on Bleecker Street, followed by several other locations. Today, it is the 15th Street shop that has survived throughout the years. “I love going to work every day, so it was a good choice for me.”In the shop’s beginnings, its selection of toys and games leaned toward the traditional — “no batteries, no remote controls, and everything that just uses your imagination.” Over the years, however, Christina chose to grow with the times and introduce more modern, automated items into her inventory. Her own children later helped her bring new options into the store. Today, Christina feels lucky to work with her daughter, Kasey Coyle, who uses her background in applied behavioral analysis to stock plenty of books and toys for younger children and those with special needs. Interestingly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina found that her clientele went back to the basics — the demand for puzzles and classic board games was revived. “I hope that trend continues,” she said earnestly. “I hope that people remember how much fun they had playing games with their family so it brings us together and off our devices.”
On any given day when passing by, there are legions of young, hopeful actors hanging around outside this building in between classes. Lee Strasberg, known to moviegoers for his role as gangster Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II, founded his institute in 1969, almost forty years after he participated in the formation of the Group Theatre (an ensemble of actors that were committed to putting on productions representative of "the life of their times.") As artistic director of the Institute until his death in 1982, Strasberg continued to train his students through Method Acting - a technique that has been recognized internationally. Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, and Marlo Thomas are only a few of the actors who were taken under Strasberg's wing and taught to fly. Today, the Institute continues to flourish as it turns out many fine actors both here and at its Hollywood location. For those who would like to watch some of this training in action, there are two theaters (The Marilyn Monroe Theater and the Lee Strasberg Theater) connected to the Institute where students perform.
Enter through the looming stone archway and immense wooden doors and walk inside the Horseman, where the gloomy interior is an aesthetic rather than dreary. The exposed brick, recycled wood from new England barns, and flickering natural gas lamps conjure a communal vibe. In the dark warmth, one can almost imagine a massive stone fireplace roaring with pots of stew simmering over open flames, or moors lying in wait just on the other side of the smoked windows. This rustic, colonial gastropub is one of the latest additions to 15th street. When we asked the bartender why the pub was named after Ichabod Crane’s spooky pursuer, he gestured toward the door and asked us what street we were adjacent to: Irving Place - and local legend claims Washington Irving lived at 122 East 17th Street. His famed character’s namesake bar is anything but sinister. The rotating seasonal beers and atypical comfort food could warm anyone's bones.