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Neighborhood Celebrity: Meet the Owner of Mike's Coffee Shop

By Jess Hullinger | October 2, 2014 12:50pm
 Jimmy Velaoras runs Mike's Coffee Shop, a Clinton Hill staple, with his brother and one other partner. 
Jimmy Velaoras runs Mike's Coffee Shop, a Clinton Hill staple, with his brother and one other partner. 
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Jessica Hullinger/DNAinfo

CLINTON HILL — Every weekend, at the corner of Dekalb Avenue and St. James Place, a line spills out the door of Mike's Coffee Shop and the smell of bacon wafts into the street.

Hungry locals flock to this greasy spoon for breakfast served up hot and quick with unlimited coffee. On a quiet weekday afternoon, Jimmy Velaoras, who runs the restaurant alongside his brother and another partner, can be found sitting at the counter catching up on "The Dr. Oz Show" and giving orders to the kitchen staff.


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DNAinfo New York dropped by to chat with Jimmy for our Neighborhood Celebrities series:

Just how long has Mike’s Coffee Shop been here?
We’ve owned it for 21 years, but the restaurant has been here over 60 years. I bought the store from Mike. Originally I am from Greece, but I’ve been here since 1960.

How has the restaurant changed over the years?
Not much has changed. We have all the same food. The neighborhood has changed a little, but it’s good. People from Pratt, teachers, students, they come here. One of the students made the sign. We had another one there but it broke.

After 21 years, do you still eat here?
Do I eat here? Yes I do! I eat breakfast at home but lunch here. Soups, sandwiches, burgers, waffles and chicken. Mostly people eat the breakfast, which we serve all day.

What’s it like working with your brother?
It’s OK. Sometimes we get into arguments, but everybody has different views and it’s all right, it’s just natural.

Have you served any celebrities?
Sure! Many of them, quite a few times. Rosie Perez used to come here and eat. And you remember the big guy that got shot? I forget his name. He used to be a customer here.

What’s it take to be successful in New York?
We get along nice with people, we have good relationships. And we make very good food! That’s how you be successful. You have to be nice to people. We’re here all these years, and we’ve made good friends.

Do you have a local celebrity in your neighborhood? You can submit them here, or on Twitter using the hashtag #neighborhoodceleb