The third U.S. Toby’s Estate café is slated to open next month in Manhattan, continuing the Sydney-founded brand’s growth in North America after launching in Brooklyn in 2012. In advance of that opening, Toby’s New York owners Amber Jacobsen and Adam Boyd gave Sprudge a peek into the forthcoming shop.
The extensively renovated space sits among the brownstones of the West Villiage in Manhattan on the acute corner of Charles Street and Seventh Avenue—“our own little Flatiron,” they both fondly call it. The building lies within the historical district of the neighborhood, meaning the process of approvals from the New York City landmarks commission has been more than a year in the making. To those unfamiliar with living in state-recognized history, this meant that in addition to dealing with the standard construction issues, small details from the location of the front door right down to the color of the masonry grout had to be approved. Now that everything is approved, construction is proceeding rapidly, with a goal of opening by mid-November.
The footprint of the space sits between Toby’s original expansive Williamsburg, Brooklyn location and their small espresso bar on Fifth Avenue within a mixed retail space in Manhattan. But the size doesn’t convey the ambitious plans for the cafe. Toby’s aim is for this to be a social and educational hub, and for the coffee offerings they’ve decided to eschew blends for a single-origin-only program. Even the two espresso offerings will both be rotating SOEs, to highlight the unique flavors from various the various farms Toby’s sources from. And the shop will be following the growing, Australian-inspired trend of cafes supplementing high-quality specialty coffee with a breakfast and brunch-focused food program. This will be coming from as-yet unannounced local partners, in addition to the requisite pastries and snacks.
Toby’s expects the upstairs to be a lively, high-traffic cafe and retail space, so they’ve decided to create a dedicated quiet parlor in the basement where brewing education and wholesale training can take place. This is an expansion of their education program in Williamsburg, and they hope the new space will give them more capacity for eager coffee aficionados looking to learn the ropes of home brewing. “We want to demystify home brewing and let our community know that it is affordable and easy to brew good coffee at home,” said Amber Jacobsen.
Making a publicly accessible basement required additional construction of secondary egress—a move that allowed the team to maximize valuable space on the street level. The basement will also house the prep kitchen, cleaning, and cold storage.
For the café layout, The Toby’s team once again turned to NEMA Workshop, the firm that helped compose their Williamsburg flagship. The large windows (returned to their original framing like the front door) will let in tons of morning light. From there, street foot traffic will be able to look in on the custom trapezoidal bar displaying an array of brew methods—the centerpiece of which will be a custom La Marzocco Strada EE with walnut accents. The bar itself will be made of poured concrete up in Poughkeepsie, NY and will be framed by tiles in a muted red and grey. No detail escaped Adam Boyd; “A passion of mine is making furniture so I contacted my wood merchants looking for the perfect reclaimed pieces for our floors and ceilings,” he told us.“I ended up purchasing the wood from Wisconsin. It came out of an old barn, and the tiles were hand made for us in Morocco.”
Seating will center around a communal table in front, a detail carried over from the Williamsburg cafe space to encourage neighborly interaction. A small nook and bench seating along the windows will round out the interior customer space. The bench seating will be mirrored on the exterior as well, with the addition of custom pet hitches. A dog owner herself, these were a a detail Jacobsen was sure to include for the the abundant animals of the neighborhood.
And it’s that notion of creating a space for neighbors that Jacobsen and Boyd keep returning to. “Being a chain does not appeal to us. We want to create unique neighborhood experiences in each location with their own personality,” Jacobsen told us. The goal is to open a distinct shop that fits in with the stoop-filled Village, welcoming and encouraging the locals to interact with the coffee and one another.
Look for Toby’s Estate West Village to open the week of November 10 at 144 7th Ave S. in Manhattan.
D. Robert Wolcheck (on Twitter as @drw) is a photographer and writer based in New York City. Read more D. Robert Wolcheck on Sprudge.
All photos by D. Robert Wolcheck for Sprudge.com