NYC: The Scoop On Third Rail’s Second Location


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All the way back in late 2012, the folks at East Village Grieve broke the news that Third Rail Coffee - one of New York’s most respected specialty coffee bars – had signed papers to open their second cafe space. Third Rail owner Humberto Ricardo updated their company’s blog yesterday with an official confirmation, and some kind words for a former tenant of his future space at 159 2nd Avenue. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve loved Stuyvesant street forever. It’s an anomaly for one, a little remnant of a street that basically just runs from 9th to 10th. But it also just has a cozy feeling to it. When we were deep in our initial location search for what would turn out to become Third Rail Coffee I haunted the area.  I was especially taken with the storefronts facing St. Marks church and it’s little “piazza”. I was also very fond of the cobbler at the intersection of 10th and Stuy and was fortunate enough to strike up some friendly banter with the man himself, Angelo.

Angelo Fontana was a true craftsmen and I admired him very much. He was great to talk to as he had been in the neighborhood forever and was a font of history. I believe he was at this particular location for over 25 years and we talked a lot about the retail landscape and the Landlords that were redefining it nowadays, and not for the better. At the time, Angelo was in his youthful 70’s but we talked about his impending retirement in a few years time. I remember thinking that whenever that might happen, I hoped to be able to acquire that spot – if the bank didn’t gobble it up first of course… Unfortunately, not long after we struck up our conversations, Angelo’s landlord decided to hike his rent to an unsustainable level for him and he was forced into an “early” retirement. The whole thing was upsetting so we never put a bid in because it just didn’t feel right. We watched as someone else took Angelo’s spot and set about transforming it…

As fate would have it, a few years later, the space became available again and we were ready to expand. The timing was right and we pounced, we got it, and now we’re really excited! We should be open sometime before June and hope to see you there of course. And Angelo, should you happen to see this – please come by, you’ll get coffee for life from us ; )

Humberto at the original Third Rail Coffee (Daniel Humphries)

Humberto at the original Third Rail Coffee (Daniel Humphries)

We had a chance to talk a bit more with Mr. Ricardo about plans for his new space.

Humberto, tell us a little bit about this space – where is it at? Is it tiny like the original Third Rail?

The street address is 159 2nd Avenue, but the store itself is actually on 10th street, technically between 2nd and 3rd – at the corner of Stuyvesent and 10th. This space is 500 square feet, whereas the original 3rd Rail is only 300 square feet. It also has a basement, which means there’s extra room for storage – the original Third Rail has around 160 square feet taken up by storage and bar.

The cafe seating area at our new shop will be 300 square feet, which means more seating options. It’s similar to the original cafe in the sense that it won’t be jammed with seating – there will be one communal table, benches along the windows and one of the walls, all facing in towards the baristas. The idea is for a communal vibe.

The first Third Rail is a multiroaster cafe – will that hold true for Third Rail 2?

Yes. We’ll continue regularly featuring Stumptown and a guest roaster spot – similar to what we’re doing now the original cafe. Some guest roasters we’ve featured recently are George Howell, Anthology, Ceremony, and Counter Culture.

This is a dodgy question of us to ask, and you don’t need to be specific, but can you clue us in to an opening date?

Ballpark month of June – June 1st is the target date, but could happen sooner than that. Our build out is going to start next week.

What gear will behind the bar?

We’ll have a La Marzocco GB5 2 group (it’s the same GB5 we used last year at GoogaMooga with Stumptown), with a couple of Robur-E’s. There’ll be brew to order by the cup via Chemex with a Marco Ecoboiler as our hot water source. Nothing too flashy, but again, similar to what we’re doing at the original location.

Will you be bringing on more staff?

Yes! The hiring process is starting soon, and we’re looking for management roles, baristas, everything really. Email jobs@thirdrailcoffee.com for more info.

Third Rail Coffee was featured in this now charmingly out-of-date 2010 Sprudge Guide to NYC.

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