LOWER EAST SIDE — Pushcart Coffee's Lower East Side location is shutting down this week — but the owners are still hoping to expand with new cafes across the city.
Jamie Rogers, co-owner of Pushcart Coffee, announced Sunday that he would close the 221 East Broadway location this Friday after sales dropped off over the past six months. The mini-chain's two other spots in Gramercy and Chelsea are still buzzing, though, and Rogers said he hopes to reopen on the Lower East Side soon and expand to other neighborhoods in the next year or two.
"There is definitely a growth plan for Pushcart Coffee," said Rogers, 31, who left his law career behind to open the East Broadway store three years ago. "The other two [Gramercy and Chelsea stores] have a better layout and are much higher trafficked locations."
The East Broadway Pushcart, which sells Stumptown coffee and in-house baked goods like the other locations, simply didn't have the foot traffic, according to Rogers.
"I think that it is just a very quiet area and unfortunately the rental prices are equivalent to the rest of the Lower East Side, but has a fraction of the foot traffic," he said. The 500-square-foot shop costs about $4,000 a month in rent.
Other factors that contributed to the recent drop in sales include the opening of a new Dunkin' Donuts on Grand Street and the new coffee bar at the nearby Doughnut Plant, Rogers said. Other customers simply moved away, he said.
"The one thing we never heard is that we aren't good at what we do," he said.
Rogers, who is also a member of Community Board 3, is looking to secure another Lower East Side location within a year.
He plans to use the model he honed at his Gramercy (362 Second Ave.) and Chelsea (401 W. 25th St.) locations: Both stores are about 1,000 square feet, larger than the original East Broadway spot, and they are in busy locations. He hopes to sell the new stores as franchises, naming TriBeCa, Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side as ideal locations.
"What we are developing is hopefully a model for people who live in their community and can become owners and operators of a coffee shop like this," said Rogers, as opposed to other franchises that owners see as investments.
He briefly listed Pushcart Coffee's East Broadway store as a possible franchise with a business broker, but had no takers.
Rogers said he hopes to see new Puschart locations take root across the city.
"Every [New York] neighborhood is proud of itself," Rogers said, "and part of it is having community space like a coffee shop that they can call their own."