The Bean Now Brewing On First Avenue, and Still Fighting Starbucks

The BeanDaniel Maurer

The Bean finally opened its outpost at First Avenue and Ninth Street this morning. When The Local stopped in, manager Guy Puglia was busy setting up the WiFi and co-owner Ike Escava was anticipating a shipment of outdoor benches.

the bean 5Daniel Maurer James Wechsler’s art.

The coffee spot’s third location (and its last one for now, said Mr. Escava) is the same size as the Second Avenue cafe that opened in December, though it has 10 more seats (60 in all). It’s offering the same array of muffins, danishes, espresso drinks, smoothies, and – oh, yes! – frozen hot chocolate, but won’t be in the beer and wine business anytime soon: the owners decided not to go for a license after neighbors voiced opposition.

Despite the lack of that particular competitive edge, Mr. Escava said he wasn’t concerned that a Starbucks is opening just a few blocks up First Avenue. “We can’t run away when we see Starbucks opening, otherwise we’d be out of business,” he said. “It seems that they have a very aggressive campaign to try to take over the East Village, starting with our original store, so we’re fighting for what we feel is our turf.”

the bean 8Daniel Maurer

That’s exactly what The Bean has done at its Second Avenue store, which is thriving just a block away from the Starbucks that replaced its original location at First Avenue and Third Street. “People want to support us,” Mr. Escava said. “They come in, they support us with their business and they support us vocally – everybody’s telling us how happy they are that we’re surviving.”

Meanwhile, the coffee shop continues to support East Village artists: James Wechsler is the first artist to hang work on the new location’s walls, and Walker Fee added color behind the front counter. The building’s owner, meanwhile, has come around to Mr. Fee’s artwork on the exterior of the shop. “He liked it,” said Mr. Escava, adding that the landlord’s initial concern about the mural was “blown out of proportion.”

the bean 6Daniel Maurer

The store is open 7 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and till 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Stop in this week and get a free $10 lunch if you use the LevelUp app.

The Bean, 147 First Avenue, at Ninth Street; (212) 243-2900