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South Bronx Coffee Shop Inside Charlie's Bar and Kitchen Shuts Down

By Eddie Small | July 30, 2015 1:53pm
 CBKPerk, a coffee shop that opened in Charlie's Bar and Kitchen in June, shut down Monday.
CBKPerk, a coffee shop that opened in Charlie's Bar and Kitchen in June, shut down Monday.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MOTT HAVEN — The coffee shop inside Charlie's Bar and Kitchen has shut down just over a month after opening.

CBKPerk officially opened in the popular Mott Haven restaurant June 22 and closed down July 27, according to Lovie Pignata, who ran the cafe.

Although the shop had been initially planned as just a summer experiment, Charlie's manager Sam Toosi said they envisioned making it a permanent fixture of the eatery if it was a success.

However, despite positive reviews from customers, this did not turn out to be the case.

"It was a good experience overall, to figure out the day-to-day setup," Pignata said, "but financially, it wasn’t worth staying."

Pignata said she thought she would get more help promoting the cafe from Charlie's end but stressed that she did not shut down with any hard feelings toward the restaurant.

She blamed factors including a lack of nearby transportation and a small staff for the cafe's failure to take off.

"I didn’t really have a way to offer breakfast foods without incorporating more of Charlie’s staff, which is already kind of limited because they just started lunch," she said, "so it would’ve stretched things thin."

Additionally, while the coffee shop was geared toward serving residents of the Clocktower, many of them tend to get up later in the day, which was not a great fit for the cafe's early morning hours of 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., according to Pignata.

A few teachers started to become regulars when school was still in session, but that did not last, she said.

"I was starting to become a little bit of a routine, but that ended when school ended," she said, "so I think starting at a different time would’ve been a different outcome."

Charlie's is still open to giving this idea another chance in the future, according to Toosi. However, at this point, he said he does not think demand in the community is strong enough.

"The number of people that are interested in something like that is not sufficient to support the business at this time," he said. "Now whether that’s going to happen in a year or two, that’s just a different story, but I just don’t think it’s there yet."

Going forward, Pignata plans to focus on doing events in museums and working with business improvement districts to set up more pop-up shops.

Michael Brady, a resident of the Clocktower who patronized CBKPerk, said he viewed it as a great project for the area and agreed with Pignata that its small size contributed to it not taking off.

"I think that CBKPerk was an excellent concept," he said. "However, it is very difficult to sustain a business model that, in that particular industry of coffee, that does not deal in high volume or where there’s maximum street traffic."

Coffee lovers in the South Bronx can still get their drinks from Palombo, an Italian coffee and pastry shop that recently opened a location right by Yankee Stadium, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts is scheduled to open a cafe in early August—an effort that Pignata would like to be a part of.

"I know the museum cafe is about to open," she said, "so I want to be a little involved with that."