We unfortunately have some unwelcome news to report about a local small business. Pushcart Coffee at 221 East Broadway is going to be closing after next Friday. The owners, Jamie Rogers and Lisa Fischoff, are looking for new space somewhere in the neighborhood. Rogers purchased the East Broadway shop in 2011, and he and Fischoff have since opened two more locations — on 2nd Avenue near 21st Street and in Chelsea.
In a phone conversation this afternoon, Rogers said the Lower East Side store just wasn’t doing enough volume. About seven or eight months ago, he noticed a significant drop-off in business. Some customers moved out of the neighborhood, he explained. Others seemed to have drifted to competitors in the area. The owners asked the landlord for a rent break (Pushcart paid about $4000/month), but that request was rejected.
Rogers lives on Grand Street, a short distance from the shop and has become active in the community, becoming a member of the community board, for example. Pushcart has been a valuable gathering spot in an under-served part of the neighborhood. “We’re not quitting the Lower East Side,” Rogers said. “We love it here.” They’ve been looking at several possible spaces, but nothing has materialized just yet. Pushcart will continue to serve several institutional customers, such as the Educational Alliance and Abrons Arts Center.
The coffee shop is located in a property, the Mayflower Building, that has been gentrifying in recent years. It was sold at the end of 2012 for $11.3 million. The previous owner, David Slaven, told us shortly after the sale became public, that his decision to lease spaces to the coffee shop (which was initially run by his sister Nicole), Malt & Mold (the cheese and beer purveyor) and Eastwood bar and chip shop significantly added to the value of the property. In addition to the Pushcart space, the new owner is trying to lease a second storefront on the Clinton Street side of the building (the previous tenant – a bodega – was evicted back in November).
Rogers said he’s happy to see a new coffee shop opening in the immediate area. As previously reported, a branch of Ost Cafe is coming to 511 Grand St. (between East Broadway and Columbia streets) in a matter of days. “I’m happy people in the neighborhood have somewhere to go,” Rogers said. If you would like to keep updated on Pushcart’s next moves, there’s an email signup sheet available in the shop. Rogers said he’d be in the store most of next week, saying his temporary goodbyes to customers.