Opening up a new establishment — particularly in Bushwick — can be daunting. The influx of new eateries and bars largely contributes to the neighborhood’s constantly-evolving landscape, and those changes are a perennial subject of contention in the neighborhood and beyond. For business owners, however, the facts remain: while some new ventures in Bushwick succeed, others accordingly fail. In an attempt to ensure that their businesses meet the needs of their community, many new Bushwick proprietors have started modifying their approach to cater to a more inclusive constituency.
Enter: the unnamed café, bar, and performance space on 1178 Bushwick Avenue.
Located a few blocks off the Halsey J stop, the elusive hideaway is identifiable only by the unassuming sign-board out front which promises various beverages, and by its owners, who are often hanging out on the front patio, inviting curious passerby inside. If you’ve ever found yourself walking past the space, you might have wondered: What is this place? Upon spending a few minutes inside, however, it becomes clear that the more compelling question is: What isn’t it?
“Basically, we wanted to make a place where people feel comfortable,” explains Ari, the proprietor. “This is like the living room of this part of our neighborhood, and the key word is warmth. Everybody is welcome, whether you want to work alone, to chat, have a drink, or are interested in booking the performance space downstairs. You don’t have to be stuck in your apartment’s little room.”
The café, which opens at 7 a.m. daily, serves up coffee, tea, and basic breakfast fare (think muffins and cereal; no hot items). Come evening, you can buy wine and beer, and though they are not planning on attaining the licensing required for hard spirits, wine-based cocktails are an eventual possibility.
While the upstairs space is casual and intimate, there is also a spacious performance space downstairs, which Ari hopes various musicians, comedians, instructors and artists will use freely to their advantage. Anybody is welcome to host events.
“We’re open every day of the week until technically 1 a.m, but people really aren’t leaving until three or four in the morning, they love it so much,” Ari says. “It’s an open, warm place, and we’re trying to work on that vibe. It’s changing every day; it’s a growing process.”
In fact, because Ari and his business partner are so committed to fluidity, they haven’t even given their space (which has been open for almost six weeks) a name — and that’s where they’d like you to come in, Bushwick.
Although the neighborhood already hosts a large array of cafés and bars, Ari believes that his is singular — and his willingness to modify his space to accommodate the neighborhood’s needs as they develop is an intriguing ideal. The only thing he is not willing to compromise on is warmth: he insists that the café should feel like a safe space for everybody.
The catch-22, of course, is the café’s lack of visibility. Because it is currently unnamed, you won’t be able to look it up online. The only way you can get in contact with Ari, other than by e-mail, is to stop by (he’s there almost every night) and check out the unique venture for yourself. Just make sure to grab a beer and snack on some free chips & salsa while you brainstorm.
The (currently) unnamed café/bar is located on 1178 Bushwick Avenue, on the corner of Cornelia St., off the Halsey J stop; hours are approximately 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. daily. E-mail Ari at [email protected] for naming suggestions.