Thursday, January 24, 2019
A visit to Miscelanea NY on 4th Street
Photos and interview by Stacie Joy
I dropped by Miscelanea NY the other day at 63 E. Fourth St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery to talk with owner Guillaume Guevara about his quick-serve Mexican restaurant and shop, which opened in 2015, and to learn more about his history and passion for advocacy.
Tell me about the history of Miscelanea NY and how you chose the East Village for your restaurant and store.
I was born and raised in Mexico City, so I have always loved Mexican culture and food. Having lived in NYC for 15 years I felt there was a small void in the market and not enough 100-percent Mexican shops in Manhattan.
For many years I lived in the East Village. I [later] moved to Brooklyn, so opening my business in the East Village was a great way to remain connected with a neighborhood that I love. To me the East Village is the best neighborhood in Manhattan — it has everything one needs and a sense of friendship and community.
To me, Miscelanea is not just a Mexican store, it's an all-inclusive trip to Mexico. You can learn about the culture through our books, about the fashion through our clothes, and about the cuisine through our food. Everything we serve is 100 percent Mexican and homemade whenever possible. Even our coffee comes from Chiapas, Mexico.
You’re very active on social media — particularly Instagram. What impact has this had with customer engagement, not to mention business?
We are active both on Instagram and Facebook. Needless to say, it is very important these days to maintain a solid digital presence. We have an online store where we ship most of our goods worldwide and social media has helped us grow in that facet of our business.
[Chef Yuri Avila]
[Shop associate Priscilla Leon with Guevara]
You’re a strong advocate for Mexico. Did you envision your role to be more than a store/restaurant owner?
I am a strong advocate for Mexico only because that is my hometown; but I also love the United States and particularly New York City, which is why I live here. I have always envisioned my role to be first and foremost an advocate for Mexico in order to show people what Mexico is really all about and to erase stereotypes.
People in NYC know that there’s more to Mexico than mariachi and tequila, but unfortunately the Mexican stigma is still there for some Americans who have not visited Mexico in recent years. I always encourage our customers to visit Mexico; in fact, many of them come to me to ask for recommendations of places to visit, stay and eat while in Mexico. I love it!
Ten percent of the proceeds of your Daughter/Son of an Immigrant hats go to the ACLU. Did you plan on being more political with the shop before you opened or did this grow out of the post-2016 political environment?
Originally, I did not have a political agenda when it comes to Miscelanea. However, with the current political climate in the United States and everything negative against Mexicans that has been said I felt the need to be more vocal about it and help in any way I could.
What’s next for Miscelanea NY?
Ultimately the idea is to grow, whether it's in-store on online. I'd like it to be a controlled growth where we can still monitor the quality of the items we sell, the curation of the products and the service we provide.
One of the things that you have to be careful when it comes to growth — and when you grow too fast — is that things get out of control easily when there is a lack of strategy behind the process. We have something very special going on now, and it's important to stay true to our Miscelanea roots and therefore grow, but in careful manner. Simultaneously, I would like to grow through art (public exhibits by Miscelanea NY) and social help (helping Mexicans in NYC grow and develop their careers).
Miscelanea NY is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to the Tompkins Square Library branch on 10th Street
A visit to Bali Kitchen on 4th Street
A visit to Eat’s Khao Man Gai on 6th Street
A visit to Yoli Restaurant on 3rd Street
Preparing for Saturday's dinner at Il Posto Accanto on 2nd Street
A visit to the Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen on 7th Street
A trip to the recently expanded Lancelotti Housewares on Avenue A
A visit to C&B Cafe on 7th Street
A visit to Rossy's Bakery & Café on 3rd Street
A visit to CAVAglass on 7th Street