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What brought you to Brooklyn in the first place?
After opening three cafés and a roastery up in Ithaca, I imagined we would be energized and well-received among the young educated, creatives who were concentrating in Brooklyn. You can’t tell by looking at our logo, but the brand is intended to be pronounced with a native-Brooklyn accent.
What’s the most inspiring or exciting change you’ve witnessed in Brooklyn over the past few years?
The real estate development has been staggering, of course. That means more coffee patrons followed by additional coffee purveyors, which is exciting. In a few short years Williamsburg has become a destination for anyone pursuing gastronomic hedonism through fine coffee.
And the most worrisome?
Failure to act on global warming, failure to dismantle the military industrial complex, and overall failure to restrain corporate influence in our democracy.
What now-closed Brooklyn business do you miss the most?
In the days before we opened our shop on Lorimer Street, I lost a competitive drinking binge with my future father-in-law at ArtLand on Grand. It wasn’t pretty, nor was I, but I still wouldn’t mind going there for a ceremonial Red Stripe with a shot of Jack.
Ten years from now, which more recently opened Brooklyn businesses do you think will have made enough of a mark on the community to be considered as part of the next wave of Brooklyn Institutions?
It would seem that Mast Brothers would be a shoo-in. Honestly, I don’t have my finger on the pulse to be able to name the more recent or compelling upstarts.
Now we’re going to ask you to list a few favorites:
Neighborhood, other than your own: Wherever art is happening, chances are people are doing stuff that matters.
Restaurant: With so many outstanding options within a few blocks, I keep it local. St. Anselm, Dumont, Pies & Thighs, Best Pizza.
Old-school Brooklyn institution: Dinner at Bamonte’s followed by several cannoli from Fortunato Brothers.
Over the years, have there been any noticeable differences between Gimme’s Williamsburg locations, and its others in Manhattan, Upstate, etc.?
The Brooklyn crowd is “work hard, play harder,” so their need for coffee seems slightly more urgent. A revived customer once thanked our baristas by loudly singing, “There’s a hole in my heart that can only be filled by yoouu.” They’re exhausted maybe, but never dull.
Photo by Helena Wolfenson