HUDSON HEIGHTS — A handful of locals are taking over a neighborhood coffee shop for the day, giving the staff a chance to celebrate its five-year run and enjoy a beach day.
Buunni Coffee, located on 213 Pinehurst Ave., is letting regulars take over the counter on Wednesday in honor of the shop’s five-year anniversary. The founders, co-owner Sarina Prabasi said, are taking the five-member staff to the beach for the first time since opening.
"We wanted to do something nice for the staff. We’re open seven days a week, from morning to evening," said Prabasi. "It’s not very often that we get the whole team together."
Prabasi, who runs the coffee shop with her husband, Elias Gurmu, said the two initially thought about closing for the day, until one customer suggested that patrons run the shop.
"One of our regular customers, [Melody Morrow] said, 'the Buunni regulars could take over the shop while you guys are away," Prabasi said. "I thought, 'That could be fun and we could have fun with it? Would you do that?' And that's how it started."
Morrow said when she first brought up the idea to Prabasi, she was thinking about finding a way to give back to the shop, since it's provided so much already for the community.
"I’ve been in the neighborhood for nine years … and in a small neighborhood you know when something good comes in," Morrow said. "I’ve been there from the start and for me it's become more than a coffee shop, it's more of a neighborhood happening."
The coffee shop conducts art exhibits each month and sells women-made artifacts from around the world, in addition to selling fair-trade coffee. These actions represent values that speak to her beliefs, Morrow said.
"It’s a great cup of coffee too. You can’t beat that," she added.
Morrow said she thought if others felt the same way she did about the shop, they might be interested in participating.
Prabasi said she put out a Google document last week calling out for other volunteers to help with hourly shifts for the day and was forced to close the form "because so many people signed up."
For her, this experience so far has "reinforced that sense of community," Prabasi said.
"It really is community. There’s an element of trust as well," she said." But when we think through it … it’s people we've known for five years. It’s a relationship. I think that’s what’s been reinforced."
Prabasi said she's excited to kick off the event Wednesday and hopes this is the start of an "annual thing" the coffee shop can do for its staff and community.
"If the response I had is any indication, we might do this every year," Prabasi said with a laugh. "We’ll see how it goes this year."
"It’s exciting to do something for them," Morrow said.
The locals will each have a hourly shift from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and receive a Buunni gift card in exchange for their help, Prabasi said.