It's a real estate idea that's caught on worldwide, but holds particular value in dense downtowns and on crowded isles like Manhattan: the lease with benefits. Whether it's retail or residential, developers, landlords and business owners of all stripes have quickly hitched themselves to the convenient, delicious, and lucrative asset that is an on-site coffee shop.
Blue Bottle Coffee, a company long familiar with being in the right place at the right time, puts the mixed-use cherry on top of one of many of Manhattan's WeWork locations, with the coffee chain's latest retail opening in New York City this week. The cafe, just across the street from iconic Bryant Park, sits at the base of the WeWork building at 54 West 40th Street, a co-working space that's part of the company's group of similar spaces leasing hundreds of desks to creative types internationally.
Because people with cool ideas usually have cool friends with cool ideas, it's no surprise the Blue Bottle/WeWork relationship was already well-established: Blue Bottle's CFO went to school with one of WeWork's founders, and the rest, of course, is Spanish-marble-topped-history.
In this, our partners at Blue Bottle's sixth year-round NYC outpost, the company worked for the first time in conjunction with another company's vision to execute a seamless design. “It was a collaboration between our design team [DCR, which has notably worked on various Momofuku restos] and WeWork's design team, so it would have a seamless look,” said Blue Bottle Store Development Manager Aaron Nice. Indeed, while the pristine-but-warm cafe feel is Blue Bottle's, the striking floor tile and industrial light fixtures are WeWork choices—bringing perhaps a more traditional coffee shop vibe to the roaster's often austere aesthetic.
The effect? A harmonized two-space ground level of the turn-of-the-century building—prior home, variously, to an Episocpal church, a Republican social club, and a drug rehab center—that fits perfectly into midtown neighborhood with a little bit of approachable Third Wave flair. Hot coffee offerings are offered via drip bar, and a La Marzocco Strada EP, while New Orleans-style iced is available via mini-keg or in one of those wee schoolchild milk cartons.
Sweets offerings mirror the delectables at other local Blue Bottles, and include seasonal fruit buckles and a peanut-butter-whiskey-and-lard-cookie meant to pair nicely with any coffee on the menu–if you're not vegetarian. The shop's not the biggest cafe space you've ever seen inside, but on the other hand, it has more seats than the average NYC Blue Bottle, with six stools (and the adjacent WeWork lobby if you seem to be doing actual business).
And though Blue Bottle's upcoming activity ramping up in Asia in 2015 may take the spotlight, rest assured: the company plans to continue nurturing up-and-coming coffee aficionados with its next New York shop slated for Park Slope, Brooklyn. The stroller-friendly design feature there?
“Wide doors,” promises Nice.
Liz Clayton is the Associate Editor at Sprudge.com, and helms our NYC desk. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.