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Bushwick Coffee Shops Skip Names for Mysterious Vibe

By Serena Dai | July 28, 2014 11:42am
 Many Bushwick coffee shops don't have signs — and aren't in a hurry to get one.
Bushwick Coffee Shops Opt Out of Signs
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BUSHWICK — Finding a cup of coffee in Bushwick isn't hard — but figuring out where you're buying it from can be.

Many neighborhood coffee shops are eschewing names on their storefronts, with owners favoring a simple chalkboard out front while others operate anonymously.

They say people already know who they are or find them through Yelp.

And as far as sales are concerned, going incognito doesn't seem to make much difference.

Fair Weather Bushwick, 274 Wyckoff Ave., displayed a small sign when it opened in December. It quickly got damaged and co-owner Shane Sener said he doesn't plan to replace it.

People have been finding him through Yelp, Instagram, local blogs or word of mouth, he said. And many coffee-loving locals know what to expect simply when they spot the long counter, exposed brick and tables inside, he said.

He saw no drop-off in business when the sign was removed.

"This is cool," he said, pointing to a chalkboard outside that said "coffee" but did not state a name. "It's more about people in-the-know coming in. They're looking for it."

Owners of Owl Juice Pub, which opened about two years ago at 48 Wyckoff Ave., left off a sign to keep the juice and coffee bar "more inviting," said Carmen Valerio, the spot's co-owner.

Without a name or menu up front, people must go inside to truly get the vibe, she said.

Though sometimes people making deliveries have trouble finding Owl Juice Pub, the spot has had good business, she said.

"It's more mysterious," Valerio said. "People look inside to see what's going on."

Others said putting up a sign just didn't occur to them initially. This was the case for Barcey's Coffee at 140 Saint Nicholas Ave., a 4-year-old shop that moved to its current location in January, and Your Way Cafe at 17 Wilson Ave.

Your Way Cafe was the first place to open on the block about two years ago, said Juan Estevez, who runs the shop with his brother. Back then, a sign just didn't seem necessary.

Like with Fair Weather, most people tell them they find the shop through Yelp, Estevez said.

It wasn't until more stores started opening in the area about a year ago that they started thinking about designing a logo, he said. They may finally put one up in the next couple months.

Regulars of the shops shrugged about the lack of signage, though a couple of Your Way Cafe regulars admitted to not being able to find the spot again after a first visit.

They couldn't look it up because they couldn't remember the name, said friends Rob Diamond and Jenn Jackson.

That said, they sought it out. Instead of remembering a name, Diamond remembered that Your Way had window seats and a mini-outdoor cafe out front.

"I was motivated to come back," Jackson said.

These shop owners aren't entirely "anti-sign" — all said they may put one up eventually, if it's original and speaks to them.

"Maybe it will be art, something original," Valerio said. "I don't want to throw just anything up."