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Coffee, Tea and A Nice Merlot

It’s hard enough to make it in New York, much less as a coffee house or cafe in a neighborhood where a basic search for “East Village, coffee” brings up 2,130,000 hits in .28 seconds.

So many East Village cafes are trying to get a cup up on the competition by adding alcohol service to their menus.

One could debate the merits of serving alcohol in a neighborhood already overrun by bars. But the recession prompted a spate of cafes to apply for a license to serve beer and wine in an attempt to separate themselves from the competition. (Hair salons and barber shops have also gone that route.) And longtime residents know that the cafe-plus-soft-alcohol model has worked in the East Village for years.

“There is certainly economic motivation to serve alcohol,” said Alex Clark, one of the owners of Ost Cafe. “If you’re running any service you look for the highest kind of profit and the least amount of time that you spend doing it. In the morning you’d go get coffee, in the evening you’d go and have a drink, it serves that function.”
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