Waiting on line at Starbucks just does not do it for many here in Manhattan, but holding out for Jack's special homemade stir brew is absolutely worth the walk. Many New Yorkers take their coffee very seriously, but perhaps no one does more than Jack himself. He has gone as far as to "invent" his own machine that he says "oxygenates the grinds as they brew, reducing the acidity." And in addition to the richness of his coffee, Jack has provided a cozy nook to savor it. There is a menu of perfect options to accompany the coffee and an interesting tea choice and hot chocolate, too. It has become evident to me, each time I have walked into Jack's that it is one of those places in Manhattan, where despite the fact that we live in a large city, we can still feel a part of a warm community.
Coffee tends to be a grab-and-go phenomenon here in Manhattan – the coffee break does not generally get its due respect. Here to change that completely, Stumptown’s 8th Street location elevates the coffee shop experience to a level unseen by most caffeine-addicted New Yorkers. I only know this because Jared, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, is one of them. The double-height ceilings, large windows, and carved wood façade of the corner store actually used to house the historic 8th Street Books. The interior of the building has been meticulously and beautifully renovated to include an enormous wooden bar, coffered ceiling, warm herringbone floors, exposed brick walls and numerous small clusters of tables, chairs and benches. The store is divided between the intimate café area and a brew bar - a coffee exposition/educational space where baristas can engage customers in learning about different methods of making coffee and the various types of coffee beans. The brew bar has at least five different types of machines and manual brewers running at the same time with a lovely, knowledgable staff orchestrating all of it. Stumptown endeavors to build a community out of our many, rushed coffee drinkers, creating a perfect setting for relaxing and reading, or for someone to simply become better educated about coffee.
The Coppola Cafe took over a space previously run by Juice Generation back in 2019. When we popped by on a weekday lunchtime the light, bright store was busy serving sandwiches and coffee. We spoke to Rezi, the coffee shop manager, who told us that Coppola was named after the Italian word for a "cloth cap" as a nod to its Italian heritage (there were a few examples on display near the window). Though the pandemic was tough, Rezi says the cafe survived and business is thriving once again. She notes that The Coppola Cafe is particularly known for the "best espresso in New York City. " When asked where in Italy the espresso beans were from, she responded proudly that "it's from Sicily. "For an authentic taste of Italy in the West Village, The Coppola Cafe is a cozy community staple.
Open twenty-four hours a day, the Donut Pub is a classic on 14th Street. This sweets bar harkens back to the style of the vintage soda fountain joint with black and white tiles, marble countertops, and stool seating. It is a true relic of an older time, and this is all thanks to Buzzy Geduld. Buzzy and his brother, Irwin, opened six donut shops around the city back in the 1960s “when there was a donut place on every block. ” Toward the end of the decade, Buzzy was offered a job on Wall Street, and he closed all but one of the businesses: the Donut Pub that is still standing today. Even as Buzzy worked in finance until the 2000s, he visited the shop every Saturday to have a coffee, a treat, and to discuss ideas for introducing new donuts or improving on old recipes. However, the core elements have remained the same. Buzzy is proud to say that everything at the Pub is made by hand, “the old-fashioned way. ” He continues to stop by on weekends to indulge in one of his favorites — a black and white Boston cream — and witness others enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Built in 1900 as a single room occupancy hotel, Marlton Hotel housed many artists who were in search of work in New York City. In 1987, The New School converted the hotel into a dormitory, but it recently opened its doors again returning to its roots as a high-end hotel. In the modern, yet classically elegant lobby is the Marlton Espresso Bar. This hip space serves up Ferndell Coffee (the only New York spot brewing it), considered the oldest known coffee brand in America, dating to 1862. The Espresso Bar also brews a signature raw almond cappuccino crafted from raw almond milk that they make in-house. In addition to coffee, they offer MarieBelle hot chocolate, a New York artisanal chocolatier, and Bellocq Tea, also a New York-based company featuring handcrafted blends. It is not only the hotel guests who are enjoying the new neighborhood addition – multiple rooms and large, sprawling furniture make this place enticing to locals and travelers alike. We visited again and there is no question that word spread rapidly about this establishment on 8th Street. From the small coffee bar set up on the far right, to the lounge area and tables set up in the back where the new Margaux Restaurant spreads itself... there were people scattered everywhere, engaged in conversation and sharing drinks, coffee, or a meal. The Marlton Hotel and all that it encompasses is definitely a place to check out. We headed even further back into the quieter section of the restaurant where we dined with friends and enjoyed brightly colored, crisp vegetables, including watermelon radishes and a mint tahini for dipping. The appetizers that we ordered to share were both inventive and delicious. Grilled artichokes were served upside down, dipped in whipped burrata with pomegranates and mint, and an assortment of quinoa tabouli, kale harissa, smashed sweet potato, avocado hummus and beets were all part of the The Farmers Board that came on a wooden board with buckwheat crackers for dipping. The fresh kale salad with lemon, chilies and pumpkin seeds was exactly what I craved, wanting to keep my meal simple and light. Others tried the mushroom risotto, a hamburger, and the scallops. Each entree was well-received and then we shared one dessert that was certainly rich enough for the four of us: the chocolate budino with chocolate crumble, olive oil, and sea salt was beyond decadent.
This bright and colorful West Village thrift shop is just one of the many businesses run by Housing Works, one of New York's highly regarded non-profits. Housing Works was founded in 1990 by members of ACT UP, an AIDS activist group that is dedicated to fighting the joint issues of homelessness and the AIDS epidemic. Their first thrift shop opened in Chelsea in 1992 and thirteen more have opened throughout the city since then, as well as a bookstore café in SoHo. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, the social stigma associated with those living with the virus or simply being LGBTQ+ resulted in thousands of individuals being denied the foundation of a stable living: housing. Whether it was from familial rejection or housing discrimination, more and more HIV positive people found themselves on the streets, and poverty, queerness, and AIDS soon became intrinsically linked. Recognizing this often neglected connection, the founders of Housing Works sought to create an organization that addressed this crisis. The non-profit is committed to ending the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain their efforts. Luke, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, sat down with the 10th Street store manager, Lauren Guttenplan, to discuss the community atmosphere forged in their shop. She mentioned, “Community feels very central to the mission. We’re not too far from Christopher Street and Stonewall, so many of our customers and volunteers have lost someone or have a personal connection to the cause. They like to know that the money they’re spending is going to help towards something good. ” Guttenplan also noted that many of their regular customers come in as frequently as once or twice a day, and that the staff, the majority of whom are volunteers, often know customers’ names. Some patrons will even make a point to shop on a day where they know when a particular volunteer is working. Guttenplan credits much of the success of the operation to the devotion of the volunteers, whom she describes as “the face of the store. ” The shopping experience is truly unlike many other in that there are opportunities for customers to become volunteers or get involved in local activism and protests. With a retail background and a degree in social work, Lauren finds Housing Works to be a perfect blend of her passions. The organization provides the unique opportunity to run a business and actually make a difference. She appreciates that with programs like job training, it is particularly satisfying to witness the impact of her work first hand. Because all of the merchandise sold in the stores is donated, each of the Housing Works shops also serves as a reflection of the surrounding neighborhood. The West Village shop, with plenty of natural lighting and exposed brick, features not only fun and unique clothing selections, but also many household items, including kitchen items, home décor, and even furniture. The store hosts a number of events, the biggest of which are the Best of Fall and Best of Spring sales.
What started out as a couple of ice cream trucks in 2008, has since become a beloved collection of shops throughout Brooklyn and New York City. Van Leeuwen offers delicious fresh milk ice cream and vegan options made with only “coconut and cashew milk, raw cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil, and organic sugar cane. ” These artisanal ice cream makers are extremely concerned with the quality of their product and the source of their ingredients - their vanilla flavor comes from organic bourban and Tahitian vanilla orchids, and their chocolate from a family-run French company concerned with quality and free trade practices, Michele Cluizel Chocolate. Van Leeuwen also offers sophisticated flavors like ginger, sweet sticky black rice, earl grey tea, Ceylon cinnamon, and salted caramel with buffalo trace bourbon. This is a must try ice cream spot for vegans, dairy-lovers, and everyone else.
When I walked into Clash City Tattoos, Baz was hunched over his station, completing a tattoo sketch. The space popped with bold red walls, brightly colored ink bottles, and large tattoo designs. One could not miss the almost human-sized bass in the corner if they tried – “some friends just like to come in and play the bass, ” Baz told me as he shrugged his shoulders. Music influences much more of this tattoo shop’s ideology than I could have anticipated. Named after Baz’s favorite band, the space encapsulates the idea that just as The Clash could play such a range of genres, so too could Baz’s tattoos encompass all kinds of people. “Lawyers and rockstars alike listen to The Clash, ” he elaborated, “and I want my tattoos to unite my customers, just as a single beat can unite different listeners. ”Baz first visited the United States in 1991 while working on a cruise ship and was immediately drawn to everything American – particularly the music, cars, and TV shows. Working in a comic bookstore, he was captivated by posters for Iron Man, Planet of the Apes, and an assortment of cartoon superheroes. He claimed it was the “solid black lines, bold colors, and clear forms” of comic art that lent it a unique and sophisticated artistic quality. Moreover, his mother’s admiration for surrealist painter Salvador Dali offered him an early penchant for the freedom of abstract art anchored in bold lines – the ideal forms for tattoo art. Clients coming into Clash City Tattoos have usually heard about the store and like to visit with an idea of what they want inked. While Baz and his team are exceptionally friendly, asserting that their store “is a place that you won’t have to be afraid to walk into, ” they are also honest with clients about which designs work and which simply do not. Equipped with a creative bent, the team mostly designs custom tattoos using clients’ ideas. However, when someone comes in asking for a "full bible verse on their little finger" or an arrangement of “a heart with four names in it, two wings on either side, and a crown on top in the size of a fist, ” the team knows when to say “this isn’t working; let’s fine-tune. ” What is more, they pay exceptionally close attention to each client’s pain tolerance. While some can manage three hours of inking in a go, others (like Baz’s wife, he laughs) only last ten minutes. I asked Baz about the most challenging tattoo he was tasked with designing. When the bass player of globally-renowned British band Muse, Chris, asked for a tattoo of his son’s name, Buster, in Disney font, Baz started thinking of ways to make the design more complex and unique. A few days later, Chris and Baz were hanging out with a group of friends, when Chris recounted a story about Buster. The young boy was playing with his toys at home when he ran straight into the corner of an table and cut his forehead. But he continued with his play as usual until Chris’ wife noticed a large gash on his head and rushed him to the hospital. Buster was unfazed. The story inspired Baz to draw up the tattoo that now decorates Chris’ right forearm – a smirking cartoon kid with boxing gloves over the name “Buster” in striking black font. Chris loved it. Looking at Baz’s journey thus far, it is easy to see how he has settled into a characteristic set of themes and motifs. Through space backgrounds, gypsy girls, cartoon superheroes, and more, Baz eventually reached a signature design – “pin-up girls with stuff in their hair, ” as he amusedly called it. I was thrilled to see his gorgeous side profiles of girls with complex forms – ships, octopuses, and more – wrapped in the locks of their hair. Baz’s artistic genius spans a wide range of imagery, fixed into his defining black lines and bold forms.
I had heard about these baths for years, believe it or not, from my grandmother who lived nearby on Avenue A as a child. Needless to say, I was eager to have a look inside this spa that has been around since 1892. Upon entering, clients are given a key to the locker room, then told to take some towels and select a sauna... be it a Russian one that has a rock filled oven or an electrically heated redwood sauna. In addition, there is an aromatherapy room, a steam room and a Turkish room complete with cold showers. Other amenities include an ice-cold pool, a Swedish shower with cold-water jets, a sun deck, and a small cafe that serves an authentic Russian menu. Some on the list of treatments include a Swedish/Russian massage, Thai/Sports massage, the Platza Oak Leaf Treatment that involves being whacked with a bundle of soapy oak leaves and oil, or a Dead Sea Salt Scrub. Although I did not chose to venture past my guided tour of the baths, I did experience an old world, warm community with many foreign speaking clients.
With its sharp corner spine, perpendicular window displays, and eye-catching red accents, the façade of Three Lives and Co. resembles an enticing book cover. Inside, caramel-colored shelves, a cozy patterned carpet, and warm lamps surround an assortment of handpicked reads. As the current owner, Toby Cox, put it, “just open the door and it’s a jewel box. ”Three Lives, which takes its name from the Gertrude Stein novel, was opened in 1978 by Jill Dunbar, Jenny Feder, and Helene Webb. Originally located on Seventh Avenue, the shop moved to the corner of 10th Street and Waverly in 1983. It has since remained a “small neighborhood bookstore, ” while the neighborhood has grown “to sort of become the world. ”Toby first stumbled upon the store on a visit from his home state of Rhode Island, where he sold books for ten years after graduating from Brown University. He was so in awe of the little shop that he sung its praises in the local Providence newsletter. Nine months later, he moved to New York to work as a book publisher, and for the next three years, he frequented Three Lives to “revel in the store. ”Then, “it all came together in a magical way. ” Toby asked Jill if she was interested in having him as an additional partner; Jill countered by offering Toby the business. In early 2001, Toby took over the store. Toby sees Three Lives as much more than a store selling books. To him, it is a vibrant community center — a place to “step off what’s going on outside those red doors, relax, unwind, have an easy chat with a staff member, and let go of all the pressure. ”