The new Stumptown cafe opened in Greenwich Village this past week to a lot of talk and hype about the cost of the build out and history of the space and its return to the laid back Stumptown West coasters often reminisce about.
Laid back indeed, a team of five baristas staff the espresso counter with iced coffee already on tap and it still takes 10 minutes to get an espresso… Did I mention it’s empty? Of course, this is Greenwich Village so all the seats are full of computers and leisure-folk however, there is no line and no steady flow of customers. There is however, a line of board baristas and an eager young lad constantly cleaning the windows outside in a signature bow-tie and vest.
The dedicated brew bar tucked in the back is completely separated with two more baristas staffing the space. The three times I was there, only one customer was present and he wasn’t ordering but simply cornering the captive workers in extensive conversation.
The space is very beautiful with nice expensive details however they are boring and predictable. The cafe looks like a bookstore or library but its not. The baristas all wear fedoras and bow ties as if this is how they dress but, they don’t. If you want to have coffee in a bookstore, go to Housing Works cafe on Crosby where you can actually read or buy a book.
The whole deal felt gimmicky and contrived like a Disney World cafe of what was once cool. It’s been five years and I don’t feel the fedora anymore or the suspenders…. The coffee was good but there is a lot of good coffee in NY These days. My friend made comment to me that the space reminded him of the Starbucks on 1st ave (not a great compliment).
When Stumptown arrived in NYC back in ’08 it was fresh and new and everyone wanted to join in. It’s 2013 now and they have to kick it up a notch before Starbucks catches up in cool factor. Love them or hate them, Stumptown can definitely be credited for forcing New Yorkers to wake up and think about the quality of their coffee. There were good roasters here before but Stumptown raised the bar and raised awareness in a way that hadn’t been done before.
The staff was super nice, the drinks were well prepared though it all just lacked energy and authenticity. For that reason I will be hopeful that their next café will take it to the next level.