JACKSON HEIGHTS — A new design and coffee shop showcasing its owner's favorite things opened last week in Jackson Heights.
Miguel Briceno last week opened Pauglina, at 75-26 37th Ave., with his husband, Jeffrey Whitney, filling it with fresh flowers, design books, candles and a coffee bar in the back.
They moved to Jackson Heights four years ago from Manhattan, after friends told them for years they should cross the river.
"Finally, we moved here," Briceno, 44, said. And they immediately fell in love with the neighborhood.
Whitney had worked for years with ABC Carpet & Home, Jonathan Adler and Restoration Hardware before switching careers. He now works as a psychologist on Staten Island.
Briceno worked with high-end fragrances, most recently at Bergdorf Goodman, often thinking of what it would be like to open his own shop.
It was a traumatic event that pushed Briceno into opening Pauglina, named after his mom Paola, dad Augusto, and aunt Lina.
Whitney, who would bike from Jackson Heights to his job on Staten Island, was seriously injured after being hit by a car on his way home from work. Briceno took a leave of absence during Whitney's recovery, and in his time away he had a lot more time to think.
That's when Briceno decided to take the plunge.
"If not now, when?" he recalled saying.
It took a few months to find the perfect spot, but now, the shop is a reality. Whitney returned to work a few days a week, and spends the rest of the time at Pauglina.
"I love interior design, love fragrances, French candy," Briceno, who hails from Venezuela, said.
In the back is a simple coffee bar that sells fresh pastries, teas, coffee and espresso.
There are also greeting cards, hand-painted bags from a Colombian designer who lived in Jackson Heights, and walls of trinket trays, candles and incense. He also sells fresh flowers and plants.
So far, neighbors have responded positively to the new shop. Some have already started suggesting items to stock, Briceno said.
"The reception has been amazing," he said.
His goal is to create an inviting space for the community.
"It's simple, it's very welcoming," he said. "I think people say it's fancy, but it's not intimidating."