New Washington Heights Coffee Shop Attracts Swarms of Java-Starved Locals

By Nigel Chiwaya on May 2, 2013 7:24am 

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Taszo Espresso Bar is open for business, and java junkies in lower Washington Heights are lining up to get a cup of joe.

Customers have been streaming into the trendy new cafe, located at 5 Edward M Morgan Pl. between West 157th and West 158th Streets, which held a soft opening over the weekend before greeting customers at Tuesday's grand opening.

Demand for the shop was so high that owner Haitem Weslati sold through a week's worth of coffee in during the opening weekend.

"We were slammed," Weslati said. "People were so happy to finally have a place like this."

Taszo, which Weslati decided to open after growing frustrated with the dearth of cafes in lower Washington Heights, offers all manner of coffee drinks: from lattes and espresso shots to macchiatos and drips.

The coffee is provided by Brooklyn's Crop to Cup.

Taszo serves pastries, too, highlighted by bite-sized cheesecakes that, according to Weslati, "offers just enough to satisfy the palate."

Taszo hopes to offer more than just coffee. Weslati said the cafe will be a venue in June's uptown arts stroll, and it will also host jazz musicians, often for spontaneous jam sessions.

The goal, Weslati said, is to keep Taszo from being a stuffy, quiet coffee shop where everyone sits quietly with a computer. To that end, laptops are only allowed in the back of the store at a giant table made from a converted lathe machines.

The rest of the tables are for everyone else, and chatting is encouraged.

"There's going to be no lack of conversation in this place," Weslati said. "It's a neighborhood place. It's as much for the customers as it is for me."

Neighborhood residents were ecstatic about having finally having a high-quality coffee shop in the area.

"It's so great," said Elisabeth Sterzer. "I never hung out here before because we didn't have something like this."

"There haven't been that many businesses in the neighborhood that can be a hangout spot," added Alexander Sovronsky, who has lived in the neighborhood for seven years. "It's really adding some nice flavor."

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