When Humberto Ricardo moved to an apartment in the East Village in the early ’90s, Stuyvesant Street mesmerized him. The diagonal offshoot between Second and Third avenues has a classic feel to it, enough so that television shows like Boardwalk Empire film there to achieve that old New York look.
As of Monday, Ricardo can officially call Stuyvesant Street home, for that’s where he opened the second location of his West Village coffee shop, Third Rail Coffee.
Ricardo looked at this block when he was first searching for space four years ago, but he passed on the opportunity to sign a lease out of solidarity with its previous tenant: A friendly cobbler had occupied the space for many years, but the landlord drastically increased the rent, forcing him into an early retirement.
That was in 2009, and Ricardo decided instead to open up shop in the West Village. That location has been very successful, so when the opportunity to lease his beloved location popped up again, Ricardo pounced.
“We wanted to create a place hat integrates into the community,” Ricardo says. “There is a neighborhood feeling to this space. It’s tucked away with a low-key vibe.”
The coffee shop does have a community feel. There is no wifi offered, so rather than a string of patrons glued to their laptops, Third Rail is filled with people having conversations at the communal table or getting their coffee to go and sitting in the piazza in front of St. Mark’s Church.
And the baristas at Third Rail are what Ricardo calls “coffee geeks, not coffee snobs.” They are more concerned with providing you with a good cup of coffee than hitting you over the head with their coffee knowledge. “I wanted to build a place that I myself would like to frequent,” Ricardo says. “Sometimes I want to geek out about coffee, and other times I just want a cup of coffee to go.”
Ricardo said he plans to let Third Rail grow organically. That means the company will continue to be a family-run business that has only a few locations. Both the Sullivan Street and Stuyvesant Street shops are open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 11, 2013