Fama takes selling their sleek espresso and coffee machines one step further by also employing technicians to fix them. Until the ninety-three year old, Ugo Quazzo, was introduced to me, I did not fully comprehend Fama's history. This kind, devoted gentleman has been living at No. 450 since he arrived in New York in the 1920s, purchased the building and began his business on the ground floor. He is supposedly the first person to bring espresso machines to the United States and he has been servicing and selling them for decades. As his wonderful team of international coffee mechanics explained to me, "most companies only fix their own machines, but we will take care of anyone's."
Lined up across one wall are numerous, impressive espresso makers for sale that are primarily from Italy and Spain, but they also carry traditional American machines for brewing. When I asked Mr. Quazzo if one stood out over another, his quick and clever response was, "all are my favorite machine if I can sell them." To walk into their headquarters, then, is to walk through a veritable mad scientist's laboratory of steaming whirrers and pourers put to bed by malfunctions. The soul of a car mechanic's garage, the smell of fresh grounds and a small zen-ish garden out back - was I still in Manhattan?
Just off of Ninth Avenue is a small cookie shop called Schmackary's, and wow, what a crowd it continues to attract at almost any hour or day of the week. Stepping inside feels like being transported into a Norman Rockwell painting – familiarly and authentically American. The shop is neatly decorated with baby blue pinstripes and a wall of colored glass that separates the kitchen from the eating area. The vibe is calm, warm, and welcoming, just as owner Zachary Schmall intended it to be when he opened his first brick-and-mortar in 2012.Zach came to the city as an aspiring Broadway actor but began his career in marketing. In order to de-stress, Zach would come home to his apartment and bake cookies, often experimenting with different flavor combinations. His friends would try his creations and after a while, they began encouraging him to sell them. Zach took a risk, and eventually, what he had seen as a modest pipe dream became his livelihood.Hailing from the Midwest, when it came time to start his own business, Zach made sure that customers were his top priority. While I was chatting with him, he told me that his approach was first and foremost based on providing the customer with warm and personable service. On a daily basis, he makes certain that his staff is not "anonymous and apathetic, but rather people who others strolling in might want to have as friends." Since his success stems from word of mouth and social media, Zach has shown that prioritizing the customer pays off.Zach credits part of Schmackary's reputation as a "hidden gem in the heart of Broadway" to the store's location a couple of steps away from the main drag. He loves his 45th Street address, especially because of his strong connection to the theater community, and wants to keep that same side street feeling as he makes plans to expand. He further explained, "Being slightly removed from the avenue bustle gives Schmackary's a more intimate vibe, whereas a main street location would feel more exposed and less familial."Schmackary's, called "the unofficial cookie of Broadway," offers a rotating menu of 45 different flavors of cookies. On one visit, I bit into the moist, but crunchy around the edges, Caramel Apple Crisp and was hooked. A coffee-crazy friend of mine, who had tagged along with me that day, said their coffee was top-notch – yet another reason to come back to visit Schmackary's. On a subsequent visit with members of the Manhattan Sideways team, they sampled several other amazing cookies, including The Monster filled with peanut butter, M&Ms, and raisins.And on yet another day when we were stopping by to take photos, it happened to be when Broadway Bakes was taking place - the annual fundraiser that Schmackary's holds for Broadway Cares, the nation's top AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. During this week, some of the theater district's biggest stars volunteer their time to stand behind the counter and serve customers. When we showed up, the line was down the block. Little did we know that everyone was waiting to have their picture taken with Audra McDonald in exchange for a donation. A serendipitous moment as Zach brought us to the front of the line to meet her. Needless to say, everyone was quite pleased that I had taken them to this sweet oasis.
Walking past the window of what was once an ice cream shop, I spotted a gentleman atop a ladder and decided to step inside to find out what was happening next. As Murat Yimaz descended the steps to greet me, he revealed that he was readying the space for the imminent unveiling of what was now going to be The Jolly Goat, a coffee shop that would also still be serving ice cream.Though he was born in Germany, Murat has been stateside for a good part of his life. He originally worked in a PR firm, but when the recession hit in 2008, the company closed and he took on freelance jobs. Since he no longer had an office, Murat often found himself camping out at coffee shops while he worked. After countless hours spent sitting at various cafés and sipping on cups of coffee, he decided to drop his PR work altogether and open his own place. Encouraged and advised by a friend who has a coffee spot in Brooklyn, Murat traveled throughout the city talking to vendors and becoming well-educated in the world of the coffee business.When the time came to name his store, Murat decided to embrace the genesis of coffee – the story of Kaldi, the Ethiopian goat herder. "As the legend goes," Murat explained in a short version, "Kaldi realized that his goats would often become very excited and jolly after eating the coffee beans. The goat herder then decided to try and make a drink from the beans and, thus, coffee was born."Now open - in the summer of 2014 - The Jolly Goat is serving Stumptown Coffee, Melt and Blue Marble's ice creams, freshly baked pastries and Davidovich's artisan bagels. On a Sunday afternoon, there was a line out the door with enthusiastic neighbors who told me that they are thrilled to have Murat and his excellent coffee shop nearby. When I was able to grab a moment to speak to Murat, he told me that the most popular item that he offers has been his cold-brewed coffee. He explained to me that this method uses cold water instead of hot and that the coffee is allowed to brew for up to eighteen hours. He went on to say that cold-brewing yields a highly caffeinated beverage, and at the Jolly Goat, they like to serve it on tap.
After so many theaters, food chains and restaurants, it was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a terrific coffee shop owned by a gentleman from Columbia with a strong passion for coffee. He sat down, determined to educate me about the beans that his farmers grow in his home country, solely for his shops. There is no middleman between the farmer and his 42nd Street shop, Carlos explained to me. He has one hundred percent control over the process by having his own facility in South America. And when his supply is running low, he contacts his men and places another order that arrives express just two days later. Thus, the beans are guaranteed to be fresh. In a raw, industrial setting, there are communal tables and metal stools that sit on the concrete floor inviting coffee lovers to sip their drinks and to grab a sandwich, or to indulge in some of their home-baked goods. In addition, there are specialty teas from Canada, with interesting flavors including strawberry, guava, mango, blackberry and almond.
I can attest to the immediate success of Carmine's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early nineties as my family and friends stood on the lines to get in on a number of occasions. Owner Artie Cutler's concept of serving large, family-style portions to guests, in a warm, friendly atmosphere connected with diners immediately. It did not take Mr. Cutler long to realize that he had a success on his hands and that it was time for expansion. In 1992, the theater district had another hit in Times Square, in the form of a grand, traditional Italian restaurant.
Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindberg are among the noteworthy clients that E.B. Meyorwitz & Dell has been crafting “made-to-measure” frames for since 1875. Today, be it in their New York, London or Paris shops, one can still be fitted for a pair of the same classy, high quality spectacles.