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Tea Bar to Double as Luxury Real Estate Office

By Leslie Albrecht | September 14, 2011 7:29am

UPPER WEST SIDE — Realtors are hoping to seal the deal over tea.

That's the idea behind a new combination tea bar and real estate office slated to open in mid-October on Riverside Boulevard. Customers will walk in through one door and find a Tavalon Tea cafe on their left, and a Blu Realty Group office on the right.

The businesses will be separated by a glass wall, but elements of the two will interact. For instance, beverage customers will have a chance to peruse apartments for sale or rent while their Oolong steeps.

"It's not going to be something that's in their face, because I want people to enjoy coming in and having a cup of coffee and having that feeling of hanging out," said Blu Realty Group co-founder Alon Chadad.

"But if someone who comes in for tea wants information on one of the properties we represent, then they'll get all the information they need."

Blu Realty Group, which specializes in luxury apartment sales and rentals in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, already has an office on Broadway and West 52nd Street. But all five of Blu Realty's founding partners live on Riverside Boulevard, the street that fronts the string of luxury high-rises known as Riverside South.

Perched on the far west side overlooking Riverside Park South and the Hudson River, the stretch is long on fancy apartments — many of which are Blu Realty listings — but short on basic amenities like coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores.

Chadad said he and his partners knew adding a tea cafe made sense, because residents are hungry for any kind of eating or drinking establishment on the street.

"The neighborhood gave us a lot, and we decided to give back in a way," said Chadad, who lives in The Rushmore, where Alex Rodriguez bought an apartment earlier this year.

Likewise, Tavalon Tea saw an untapped client base on Riverside Boulevard, where a five-bedroom apartment in The Avery building is on the market for $6.85 million.

"On that strip there's a lack of retail options," said Tavalon Tea CEO John-Paul Lee. "It's like a dead zone. But there's definitely a good market to be captured there."

Lee said he believes the combination tea and real estate venture, first reported in The Real Deal, is the first of it's kind in the entire country.

Tavalon Tea, which sells premium tea blends "catered to an American palate" online, had a retail store in Union Square until 2009. The Riverside Boulevard cafe will be Tavalon's new flagship Manhattan location.

Aside from a variety of teas and a "limited" sampling of coffee, the cafe will serve tea cookies and cupcakes, chai brownies and frozen yogurt.

The combination real estate office and tea cafe, to be called Blu Cafe by Tavalon, is slated to open around October 15 at 120 Riverside Boulevard and West 66th Street.