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Birch Coffee and Majora Carter Plan New Cafe for South Bronx

By Eddie Small | February 17, 2016 10:18am
 A new coffeeshop is being planned for Hunts Point Avenue that would be a partnership between Majora Carter's company StartUp Box and Birch Coffee.
A new coffeeshop is being planned for Hunts Point Avenue that would be a partnership between Majora Carter's company StartUp Box and Birch Coffee.
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StartUp Box

HUNTS POINT — Celebrated local advocate Majora Carter is teaming up with Birch Coffee to open another new cafe in the South Bronx.

The coffee company is partnering with Carter's technology company StartUp Box to plan a coffeehouse at 866 Hunts Point Ave. in Hunts Point that should hopefully be ready for business by the spring, according to StartUp Box President James Chase.

"We already hired four people from the area, and they’re working at other Birch locations right now and getting up to speed," Chase said, "and we want to hire four more and get them working."

Birch Coffee opened its first store in October 2009 inside of the Flatiron District's Gershwin Hotel, and the company now has seven locations throughout New York in neighborhoods including the West Village, the Upper East Side and Long Island City.

The new location in the South Bronx will be called "Birch Coffee Powered By StartUp Box," according to Chase.

He said they decided to partner with Birch because they have a good reputation, they treat their employees well and they were willing to try opening a store in the South Bronx, a chance that other potential partners StartUp Box approached were not willing to take.

Chase hopes the coffeehouse becomes a spot where people can go to attend events like poetry readings and music performances, describing it as a "third space" where people can spend time away from their offices and apartments.

"It’s not work, and it’s not home," he said. "It’s that sort of commercially viable, high quality social place."

Birch co-founder Jeremy Lyman said that the space reminded him of the company's first location, and he was excited to open up a store in the South Bronx.

"We hope that bringing the first specialty coffee shop to the area will give locals in Hunts Point a place to not only hang out and meet other locals, but also enjoy a really great cup of coffee in the process," he said in a statement.

The upcoming coffeehouse in Hunts Point is part of an explosion of new cafes that have recently arrived in the South Bronx.

The Italian bakery Palombo opened up a cafe near Yankee Stadium over the summer, and a Starbucks opened up soon afterwards right across from the Bronx Hall of Justice.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts also opened up a cafe in the fall, and a new coffeehouse should come to Mott Haven in March.

Chase described the rapid increase of coffeehouses in the South Bronx as a sign that people are trying to figure out what they can do to make the neighborhood a more attractive place for people to stay.

"People aren’t thinking only, 'What can we do for desperate people?'" he said. "I think across the board, people are saying, 'What can we do to keep the talent and reduce the brain drain that The Bronx always experiences?'"