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Popular Coffee Shop Offers Mug Lockers for Regulars

By Amy Zimmer | April 20, 2012 9:22am
Doug Soclof, of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, stand with the shop's new lockers, which will be launched soon for regulars who want to keep their mugs at the store.
Doug Soclof, of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, stand with the shop's new lockers, which will be launched soon for regulars who want to keep their mugs at the store.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

YORKVILLE ­— Who needs the gym?

A new outpost of the newly-opened Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is getting ready to offer its patrons miniature lockers — so they can stash their reusable coffee mugs at the shop.

The Los Angeles cult favorite coffee shop's fourth Manhattan location, which opened on East 83rd Street and Third Avenue on Tuesday, said they're rolling out a plan to let customers use a wall of tiny lockers at the store where regulars can leave their personal mugs, purchased from the store.

Staffers will clean the mugs between uses so they're ready for the next cup of java or tea.

"We look to be part of a community," co-owner Doug Soclof said. "We want to be people's home away from home or office away from the office." 

He also played up the environmental benefits of the re-usable cups. "With Earth Day coming up, how much better can you get?" he asked.

Soclof has already installed most of the 150 little cubbies and expects to work out the final details of the locker program and pricing by the end of the month, he said. The shop will offer various deals to members, he said.

Several patrons seemed intrigued by the idea, particularly devotees of the expanding SoulCycle spin classes near the Coffee Bean at 1469 Third Ave.

"I'm obsessed with the ice-blended, no sugar-added vanilla" coffee, said Nicole Skydell, 23, who has been to the store every day since its opening. "It's so great. Between Juice Generation [a nearby smoothie shop], Soul Cycle and here, I could live on the block. They should just get me a bed."

Elyssa Sanders, 33, thought the locker program sounded "awesome."

She was sitting with her 10-week-old baby on Thursday at a communal table with other moms of newborns, thinking it could be the new after-class hangout for the new mothers group she's a part of, called Seedlings.

"We need a spot," Sanders said, "I'm obsessed with coffee beans, so that's why we came."

The shop also boasts of its coffee and tea "cellar," a glass enclosed, closet-like space with more than 100 premier coffee blends from tea directly sourced from estates in Indonesia, Japan and Sri Lanka, among others. 

The Coffee Bean arrived in New York just six months ago, with its first location near Times Square at 40th Street and Broadway, followed by two Upper West Side locations. It plans to open several more Manhattan branches before the end of the year.

Soclof was pleased to be opening the chain's first Upper East Side location in a neighborhood with growing families that's near shops, spas and fitness centers.

"We have been very focused on the Upper East Side," he said.

For decades, the Third Avenue space had been home to Martell's restaurant, with its signature blue-and-white striped awning. Six years ago, a bistro and bar called Wicker Park took over the spot, attracting late-night crowds of 20-somethings. When the bar closed a couple of months ago, Soclof kept the original wooden bar in place, confusing some customers who came in search of liquor.

"People come in for a vodka tonic and leave with four shots of espresso," Soclof said. "It's happened four times already."