CROWN HEIGHTS — It all starts with the espresso.
On Nostrand Avenue, the newest 'it' stretch in a neighborhood where the opening of anything — and particularly anything even vaguely hipster — is closely watched, the offshoot of a popular Williamsburg espresso bar taking up residence in the erstwhile home of a Jamaican restaurant on the corner of Lincoln Place is sure to start whispers.
But for Lula Bagel co-owner Yossi Cohen, opening here was a no-brainer.
"I live right across the street," Cohen said of his week-old business. "We wanted to give something back to the neighborhood."
When he saw the for-rent sign, he said he and business partner Yuki Levinson jumped at the opportunity, even though it meant gut renovating the space and pioneering an untested market for $2.25 iced coffee.
"I'm not West Indian, and we’re not very cheap," Cohen said. "We don’t have the prices of the delis in the corner. The items are a little more sophisticated and the pastries are from well known bakeries and the cheese we’re using are expensive and the coffee that we use is premium."
But for many in the quickly shifting community, a shot of pricey premium coffee is just what the neighborhood needed.
"I just got up from a nap and I was folding my laundry and I couldn't do it unless I had an iced coffee," said Katie Graves, 24, clutching the coveted beverage. "I saw this place was opening and I was really excited, because I didn't feel like walking to Franklin Avenue for coffee."
The owners are frank about their decision to open on an up-and-coming block and their role in a rapidly changing Crown Heights.
"it’s a little different neighborhood [from Williamsburg]," Cohen said. "We’re sitting on a corner, and everybody walks to the train, so we’re getting a lot of very mixed people."
Still, he said, "we're trying to bring something that people will buy in Midtown into Nostrand Avenue."
"We do want to cater to everyone, and that's why the place is a bagel store and not an espresso bar," Cohen said. "We want to bring everyone, because everyone eats bagels."