In March 2020, entrepreneur David Feiger was set to open his next and most ambitious venture, Nook: an experimental, industrial-inspired lounge where patrons could enjoy caffeinated beverages, homemade snacks and craft beer in ultra-comfy furnishings.
March, as it turned out, was a bad month for a grand opening. The pandemic shut Nook’s doors before they could even open, leaving Feiger’s plans suspended until further notice. Like any reasonable person with a sudden surplus of free time would do, Feiger took up a new hobby.
Not many people, however, would become skilled woodworkers in record time and launch a spinoff furniture business. Feiger, a Chicago native who radiates optimism, did, and he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about COVID-19 delaying his Plan A for a year.
“It was like a blessing in disguise but, like, super stressful. It allowed me to start my woodworking business,” Feiger said sitting cross-legged in one of Nook’s alcoves, surrounded by shelves and tables he cobbled together with found materials.
Despite having located a silver lining, the prolific tinkerer was still eager to open the boutique coffee business. When it finally did in April, people — emerging from their COVID-19 hibernation — were eager to make Nook their new remote office space.
Having envisioned his shop as a second living room for his patrons, Feiger could not have been more delighted.
“I love it. One of the reasons I wanted to build this space is to create a community center in a sense,” he said. “Having seen many, many coffee shops and bars, there is always something not totally comfortable about them. I thought of making something that’s really cozy and comfortable with great drinks, just a space where people want to sit down for hours.”
On any given day, a diverse crowd of young professionals pours through Feiger’s door to occupy Nook, whose brick facade, interrupted by floor-to-ceiling windows, spreads over the corner of Irving Avenue and Troutman Street.
Inside, they’re greeted by a menu of locally sourced beverages, including freshly squeezed juice, and a plethora of treats ranging from grilled cheese sandwiches to chocolate chip cookies Feiger’s mother makes and trucks over in a suitcase.
Customers can enjoy their orders in any of Nook’s eclectic corners, all flooded with natural light and arranged so invitingly that in a different time, Betty Smith may have plopped down in an armchair to compose “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”
An entrepreneur with an artist’s spirit, Feiger hasn’t stopped incubating new things and doesn’t count on wanting to — at least three times a week, he hosts trivia nights, happy hours, live jazz, open mics, game tournaments and any other suggestion customers might request on a blackboard hanging toward the back of the shop.
“I wanted a place where I can experiment with ideas and test things out,” Feiger said. “I have a woodworking business that has branched off and was a successful thing that started here. What else?”
New goodies pop up every week at the register, some of them concocted by the baristas, whose ideas Feiger welcomes with enthusiasm. For Nook’s frequenters, the best thing on Nook’s menu of offerings probably isn’t the Chai latte or the banana bread (although both are well loved), but the space itself.
Be it an escape from the four walls of a cramped work-from-home situation, a safe place to once again sit in public with other people, an opportunity to socialize or perch outside and absorb sunlight: whatever Nook might be to his customers, Feiger is happy to let that definition evolve.
“I think it’s easier to meet people here than other places. People come here with generally good attitudes and are respectful of everyone else’s workspace,” Feiger said. “I’ll walk in sometimes, and, like, random people are playing Scrabble together.”
All images by M.E. Lewis.
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