Among buildings always taller than them, lovers of the great cultural outdoors will traverse New York’s streets to a borough called Queens. In the neighborhood of Ridgewood, an outdoor space will do justice to the noun that is summer: musical sounds will scratch air, food aromas will float like halos and the vibration of human energy – throwback and modern – will create small batch memories to hopefully last beyond the summer its incubating in.
Where is this place? It’s called Nowadays, a joint experience by the gents behind Mister Saturday Night – Justin Carter and Eamon Hawkin – who’ve have teamed with business owner Mark Connell – formerly of Estela, founder of Bluebird Coffee Shop, which he sold in 2011 and currently of Botanica. Together, the three aim to bring an experience to 16,000 square feet of space that feels part kickback, part house party. Cue the feelings of future Nostalgia.
I chatted with Nowadays’ Connell, whose heading up its coffee program and we chatted about his former days at Estella making cold brew for his kitchen, starting Bluebird to what travelers can expect at Nowadays this summer.
c.: I’m excited about this concept. It sounds like the perfect kickback meets house party. Can you tell me about the coffee we can expect at Nowadays?
Mark Connell: Of course. We’re working with Joe, The Art of Coffee. We’re outdoors there won’t be an espresso machine or espresso based drinks so we’re focused on cold brew and Katie at Joe is helping us with the right beans for it.
c.: Cold brew, that’s kind of perfect for an outdoors centric event.
m.c.: Yes, we’re starting simple and we’re working to have some simple syrups to compliment it from our vendors. We’re also going to do New Orleans style coffee. Since we’re just opening we’re still tweaking things and working out what we’ll add, we may even do a tonic – it’s something refreshing with a little kick and maybe a hybrid of a ca phe da (Sudanese Coffee) with the New Orleans style.
c.: I like the idea of your coffee program growing and evolving with some experimentation. It leaves room to see what you can do given what the people respond to.
m.c.: That’s true. The challenge is that we’re an outdoor space. We do have an inside space, and later we have plans for an extension of the outside to come inside and then we can have a stronger coffee program.
c.: Can you share a little about how you’re approaching caffeinating the crowd in Queens? Will the cold brew be on the shorter or longer spectrum of the 12-16 hour brew process?
m.c.: I prefer the shorter, 12-hour spectrum. I tend to like the lighter, fruitier notes of cold brew. I don’t consider myself an expert but I’ve made coffee for a while. I used to make it at Estella, a placed I opened in New York, for my guys in the kitchen. I’d make it and they would drink tons of it, without milk. And then in 2009 I opened Bluebird and we were really serious about coffee – our approach and how we made it. In those days, it was hard telling people that you don’t take espresso to go. He laughs. But for Nowadays, I’m starting off making five pound bags of cold brew to start. We’ll take it from there and see what the people want.
Nowadays, opens Thursday, June 17th at 4 p.m. Find it every Thursday – Sunday throughout the summer at 56-06 Cooper Ave, between Wyckoff and Irving, 718-386-0111
photo courtesy of Nowadays