Bushwick Native Who Started Drinking Coffee at Age 5 Opens Coffee Shop

By Serena Dai on July 8, 2014 2:08pm 

 Michael Avila, 31, opened The Coffee Shop in Bushwick after 10 years in the jewelry business.
Michael Avila, 31, opened The Coffee Shop in Bushwick after 10 years in the jewelry business.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

BUSHWICK — A Bushwick native and mentee of the espresso purveyor at East Village's I Am Coffee has opened his own space for coffee, pastries and art events.

Michael Avila, 31, lived in Bushwick until age 7, when his family moved to Kew Gardens.

After spending 10 years working in all aspects of the jewelry business — from photographing to polishing — Avila decided to pursue his lifelong love of coffee in his old neighborhood.

The Coffee Shop, at 203 Wilson Ave., opened on Monday.

"At 5, I was drinking coffee," he said. "It was a breakfast treat for me. I think of it as something comfortable, as a comfort food."

To learn more about opening a shop, Avila turned to a familiar face in New York's coffee scene, Giovanni Finotto of East Village espresso shop I Am Coffee, at 9 St. Marks Place. 

Finotto taught him aspects of the business and how to create his own blend, Avila said. For a while, the two even played with the idea of Avila opening a location of the popular Italian espresso shop.

But ultimately, the new Bushwick shop is all Avila's.

He's fully dedicating himself to the neighborhood, even moving into an apartment behind the shop next month. He appreciates the changes happening, such as the opening of health food stores, he said.

"I'm that way, and the neighborhood is getting sort of interested in that too," he said of health consciousness. "That was a big influence on me, on why it should be Bushwick."

In addition to serving coffee from an Italian-roasted house blend, The Coffee Shop will host regular live events. On Thursday, works from artist Ocean Clark will deck out the walls, and on Saturday, an accordion player and stand-up comedians will perform.

"I want a place where people can come and do their own thing," he said.

In other local restaurant news:

► A new restaurant focused on pasta has opened near the Jefferson Street L stop.

Pasta Shop, 234 Starr St., serves pasta made in Tuscany that's then frozen and shipped to Bushwick, owner Antonio Pergoli Campanelli told Bedford and Bowery.

The main pasta dishes cost between $12 and $15, and a brunch menu offers up some egg-based dishes, too.

► Owners of 983 Bushwick's Living Room are opening a new restaurant and bar at 970 Flushing Ave., according to Bushwick Daily.

The concept's not set yet, but it will feature small bites.

► A Malaysian restaurateur hopes to attract adventurous Williamsburg eaters at Pasar Malam, a new spot at 208 Grand St.

Salil Mehta told Bedford and Bowery that the "educated" foodies in the neighborhood will appreciate the Malaysian-with-a-twist dishes like chili crab and Hainanese chicken.

Mehta also owns Laut, a Malaysian and Thai food restaurant near Union Square.

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