After three years at 137 Avenue A, Three Seat Espresso is planning its departure by the end of 2019 here between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.
[Photo by Steven]
The owners made the announcement on Instagram yesterday:
Three Seat Espresso will be closing for good. Not immediately but before years' end. Halloween marks our 3rd and last birthday. We have tried to serve the community as best we can, however, ultimately we can no longer do so.
Thanks to everyone who has supported and continued to support us — staff, investors, customers, friends, family, vendors and partners.
Please stop in when you can, as the staff and I would love a chance to say our goodbyes before throwing you back into the coffee abyss!
Aaron, the founder, added more background about the closure this morning in an Instagram post:
Three Seat wasn’t perfect. Nothing ever is. A lot of shit went down in those four walls. Starting as a cafe and barber concept, along with the barber aspect came physical fights between barbers in front of cafe customers, theft, police involvement, plus more. Barbers and barber shops are a culture unto themselves. I could write a book on this!
At the same time, the cafe was pretty busy and it made sense to expand into the barber shop area, removing the barber service.
It didn’t work. Over the last year, the cafe has only become quieter and quieter, significantly reducing sales — our Achilles heel. The Shitbucks effect has hit hard and they have only become busier and embraced by the community. They opened approx 50 feet from me. I have people say to me every day 'I just don’t get it, why would people go there?' Fact it is, it doesn’t matter. People do and increasingly so. There is nothing I can do about it, having tried so many things already. The mega-billion-dollar-shit-in-a-cup-boheimouth has worn my business down and now out. This is a case of where having the best coffee, the best aesthetic, the best service, the best music etc. doesn’t matter.
But, what an experience it has been! Working with staff and investors who have become dear friends, customer who have become mates and wonderful cafe and hospitality partners. When thriving, Three Seat was a wonderful part of the East Village community.
Per EVG reader Nick, who shared news of the closure: "I enjoyed going there of the past few years — they were always very nice and friendly, and the coffee was good. Curious to see what will be next."
Another reader who chimed in about the pending closing wondered what impact Starbucks, which arrived a few storefronts away in August 2017, may have had.
After two-plus years of life as a coffee shop-barber combo, Three Seats expanded the cafe in place of the barber last November.
The previous tenant here, the always-busy Top A Nails, moved next door to No. 139 in May 2016.
I always thought their (and others in the neighborhood) credit/debit only business model was classist and totally not in keeping with the spirit of the EV
I also had a problem with the no-cash policy. Maybe other businesses should take note that you lose valuable customers that way.
Cashless is classist has nice ring but doesn't quite have the trigger power as cashless is fascist. Its really a deep form of state-corporate partnership - your every transaction recorded forever. Plus the banksters get a fee every time you buy something. And they make money by harvesting your data. But most of us are too busy drinking and binge watching to think.
Only one reason why a place goes cashless; They’re worried staff will steal. Me ? I’d rather some college kid swipe a twenty out of my register than fork one cent over to Amex , Visa , or Chase. At least with the theft I know it’s going to someone who really needs it as opposed to contributing towards someone’s seven figure year end bonus.
This place had all the right parts, but it didn't work. Closing at 4pm every day or whatever was def a bad idea.
While it might not have been the intention of the owners, the cashless system sends a clear message: poor and homeless not welcome here.
City of Saints listened to the neighborhood and started accepting cash. Sad for their staff, who were always nice to me and my pup
Cash only is the only reason I walk from A to 1st Avenue for my bagels, rather than down the two blocks.
Sad to hear this.
We are Seeking Neighborhood Zoning Protections that Limit Chain Stores –
Village Preservation is working with allied groups to try to secure a ‘Special District’ designation that would restrict where chain stores (like Starbuck's) could locate in the East Village. While other cities have enacted such measures, New York City has not, and there is strong support from local groups, including merchants, in the East Village for such a measure.
Learn more and send an email to support this proposal here:
This guy should get a grip. Ok, Starbucks sucks, but he opened a Barber Shop close to other Barbers in the EV and there were also other several Coffee spots close when 3 Seats opened. Did he consider competition? When they decided to do just coffee; it was the same customers camping out every day in there taking up every seat.
Fights? Police Involvement? Sounds like they needed a good manager and a better business plan.
Physical flights with employees and he's blaming Starbucks for closing ?
Anon 8:18 here, and yes I also totally agree “cashless is fascist” indeed! if y’all link your metrocards to your credit your every trip can be tracked
@anon 12:51. Enjoy.
Many reasons to go cashless. It reduces the need to travel to the bank with hundreds of dollars, multiple times a day. It eliminates the need to count currency and close out the register each night. It speeds up the opening and closing process.
A 3 year old business closes, and there goes the neighborhood?
Honestly, all of the above, plus his iced coffee was the smallest ever. Barely larger than a cup of coffee. Sure it was good but on a hot day, at least be able to offer a large size iced coffee. Also that cashless system sucks. I hardly went there because of that and I have a card... and to this day I haven’t gone to Starbucks. So it isn’t Starbucks that stopped me. And when I mention how they should have at least one large size for iced coffee he said something snotty back to me. Me, who just paid him $6.00 plus a tip for what amounted to a cup of ice with some coffee splashed over it.
with a splash of coffee.
The main reason for not doing it is to cater to your customers, if you can keep them.
@bagelguy That is not the ONLY reason to go cashless. As you must know, banks CHARGE for every roll of coin you 'buy '. At the end of the month, that can add up to a decent amount of money straight off the profit, especially for a business doing low average dollar sales. I'm not a proponent of cashless in any way because I do think it is discriminatory but they chose to pay the credit card company/bank the percentage rather than the bank for the coins and bills. Banks use to have safe drop off draws/slots on their exteriors where merchants would deposit a lot of their cash in bankbags at the end of the day. Don't know if that even still exists. And banks have fewer and fewer locations if they did still exist
Starbucks is just FINE with me. They also treat their Employees well. So a Big FU and Good Riddance to the others (including this guy who is closing) if you dont like it
@anon 4:59 Not true at all. You can negotiate a very favorable situation with a local bank as we did with Capital One. No deposit fees no change fees. But even when I was at Chase and they hit me with the fees you speak of , it was minuscule next to the $80,000 a year I’d have to pay in fees at my Ave A store. People can do what they like. Me , I’d rather put that money towards paying my staff a fair living wage with bonuses and out the rest towards the upkeep of my shop.
And yes. It is a royal pain in the ass to get change and make deposits. But it’s a sacrifice I will gladly make to keep that money I’m my businesses pocket.
Never felt like the place bothered to embrace the community.
Cashless is weird (and yes classist and yes untrusting of employees). This place was expensive and not that good. The vibe/crowd was offputting and elitist. Impossibly high retail rents is most likely the real problem for all of the above. Blame Starbucks all you want but there are plenty of other cafes thriving in proximity to Starbucks in NYC.
While a few businesses are cashless, far more actively discourage card use by imposing minimums and surcharges.
Why is this cashless issue/debate wreaking such havoc in our community? I had no idea it would upset so many people.
It's a lazy excuse to blame Starbucks. I stopped going to this place because they wouldn't accept cash. I don't go to Starbucks either, so can't blame that. Considering how many people in this immediate area don't use credit cards for myriad reasons, it was poor business planning to not accept cash.
On the contrary, I prefer cashless. I have managed two local food businesses in the west and east village that only accepted cards because of the proliferation of counterfeit bills and internal theft from staff. It was really the only way we could be sustained. There were a couple of exceptions we took cash when a guest had a complete emotional breakdown, but it was very rare. I do feel for those whom might not have access to credit/debit or those whom simply choose not to use due to interest rates and fees. I understand how a few might deem it discriminatory for certain groups of people. But this is almost 2020. I rarely use cash anymore. I always use my debit card and credit cards. It's easier. I will probably get a lot of shit on here for expressing my thoughts considering the train of comments refuting such a practice, but I thought it was worth a shot in providing a different POV. Have a great weekend!
@12:03pm: How about those of us who CHOOSE to pay cash? I don't want my purchases tracked, I don't want my info commodified every time I buy a coffee or a salad, and the more places that have my credit/debit card number, the greater the chance that one of their systems gets hacked and then I have a problem FAR MORE time-consuming than buying a coffee or salad.
Further, every dollar bill says it is LEGAL TENDER for all debts, public and private, in this country. So why should my cash not be acceptable?
The problem, IMO, is people who can't figure out how to identify counterfeit money, or who can't hire the right kind of employees. But I think if you begin with the idea that the employees are all going to be on the take, the hiring process is already twisted.
Countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden are 80-90% cashless now, so it does work in some places. However, in the US, where credit card debt, student loans and mortgages are already high, I wonder if the cashless society will lead to more unfettered spending and higher debt. Paying cash keeps me more aware of how much money I’m frittering away on non-necessities and helps keep my spending in check.
I never patronize 'cashless' places. If my money is no good to them, they don't get my business - it's just that simple.
And I would have thought that in NYC's small-business environment, any smart business person would want as much $$ as they can get. If you are cashless, you can't even IMAGINE how much revenue you're losing. A smart person would want maximum income, which would absolutely include accepting cash. As to employee theft, how much are the employees stealing?? You're still making more money by accepting cash even if your employees take some of it.
While they generally had good reviews on Yelp, I usually look at the bad reviews first to see if there are any red flags before visiting. This review from Aimee S. was posted on Yelp a week ago. No wonder they are closing.
"I'm confused why this cafe has such a high average rating. Visited for breakfast and was thoroughly disappointed. Here's an itemized list of every substandard aspect:
1. The wait for our food was incredibly long. They're understaffed.
2. The coffee was watered down and tasted burnt. My friend tossed it on our walk out the door.
3. The strawberry banana smoothie was flavorless.
4. The seating was cramped, as there was a massive, unused chest freezer sitting adjacent to one of the few tables.
5. The avocado toast was lackluster: dry bread with some sliced avocado and very poorly made scrambled eggs, littered with copious amounts of black pepper, plopped on top.
6. The bagel for the bagel sandwich was stale as if it had been made "fresh" about 4 days prior.
Overall, the worst experience I've ever had at a cafe in the entirety of NYC. Thankful I'm able to leave a poor review so, eventually, this cafe can be replaced with another, better one.
Oh, and there were certainly more than three seats not an apt name, guys."
Cashless? What happens when your phone runs out of juice? How do they take payments when their internet connection goes down? How do they sell anything if theres another blackout? I guess they don't want the elderly, people without credit cards or smartphones. kids, or new immigrants to spend money there either, and now they won't have to.
@2:13pm: Exactly! And may I say, as an older person, my cash is as good as a 20-something's debit card. I have valid credit & debit cards, and I use a nice iphone, but I am NOT going to patronize a cashless place, end of story.
There are a number of businesses near where I live that are cashless and they get ZERO dollars from me. Those proprietors haven't the faintest idea how much money I and my neighbors would otherwise be spending in their shops; IMO, they ought to get their heads out of the cashless-ness sand!
It would be interesting to see a tally (a new project, EVGrieve?) showing which places are totally cashless and which are not, and tracking how long before they go out of business.
IMO, the most successful places ALL take cash! For example, Joe's Pizza on 14th takes cash & the line there is frequently out the door. Whereas Martina's is gone!
Think about TJ's, Whole Foods, and even McDonald's: can you imagine any of them cashless? They all take cash - and for good reason!
@12:03 Any employee can steal. And it's usually the ones you think you'd never have to worry about. Too tempting. And the ways people come up with would astound even Einstein. Theft should , and usually is, built into your biz plan. That said, I'd rather some college kid or kitchen guy knick me for a twenty here and there than fork 5pct of net over to the banks. Margins in this business are already super tight. Chase , Amex, Capital One and Visa are not my partners. They didn't put their lives on the line to open my first store. Quite the opposite. They laughed me out the door when I needed start up money. My goal is to keep the doors open, pay my staff a living wage, and put my daughter through college. The $90,000 a year Ave A saves on fees goes a long way towards making sure that all happens. In my opinion the greatest scam perpetrated against the American small business person over the past 25 years is that they are obligated to help fund debt culture and kick 5 percent over to the banks. It's part of the reason you see so many shuttered storefronts. It's also why places like 3 Seats had to charge such high prices for smaller sized portions.
One does not see Southern Cross Coffee and Frisson Espresso blame Starbucks or anyone other coffee shops or stores with their closings.
I boycott cashless businesses, and if I didn't realize a place was cashless before I set foot in the door, I walk right out.
I know most people prefer the ease and cleanliness of a cashless store, so I accept that this is how the future will play out. (And yes, I went into 3 Seats once, tried to pay with cash, and swore I'd never go there again.)
Still, sorry to see them go.
I think Bagel Guy says it all. EOS.
My goodness. Why is going cashless such a hot topic? If they don't accept cash, then find somewhere that does. There are numerous places that will happily take your cash. I fail to understand why many are so bent out of shape. I just spent the summer in Stockholm. And yes, most places don't take cash as one commenter said. I also visited Denmark and Finland too. Very few places took Euros. I didn't see people there showing concern or discord. We could use some lessons with how they treat others and how they manage money. They are far ahead in health care, education, and commerce not to mention other areas.
I wish the employees in the cafe the best and hope they find adequate employment elsewhere.
I came on here to say my biggest issue with this place was that it didn't accept cash, but I see that's been covered! While I had an issue with them not taking cash, I did patronize this place a few times, but it was also pricey, and I could rarely get a seat. The barber concept wasn't appealing to me as someone who was going to there to get something to drink. Open a barber shop or a coffee shop.
Bottom line: I never, ever saw a reason to patronize this place. I loathe $tarbux and their coffee, but I never even realized that 3 Seats got rid of the barber shop gimmick so I never bothered. Now I see that my indifference was justified.
@5:17pm: Another round of "how Europe/Scandinavia/wherever is sooooo much more advanced than the USA" - no thanks! Somehow you link cashless-ness with having a better society, better health care, and better education? Seriously, your reasoning escapes me on that.
You ask "why is cashless a hot topic?" Well, give it a minute's thought, and maybe you'd realize that it flies in the face of everything most of us do when we go shopping, which is to spend cash! The supermarket isn't cashless, nor is the post office, the doctor's office, the hair salon, the nail shop, the shoe repair place, the corner deli. And people who do not have a credit/debit card are left out entirely, so it discriminates against the poor.
IMO, there's no REAL reason for a business to refuse cash other than having a lazy owner and/or trying to be trendy. Cashless is NOT better; it's exclusionary and snobby.
Many of us do NOT want our purchases tracked. Further, how good is security at these cashless terminals? If the terminal or system gets hacked, that costs the customers a LOT of time & aggravation.
And, watching college students charge EVERYTHING from a pack of gum to a cab ride, I have to wonder what their bill looks like at the end of the month ... or does the Bank of Mom & Dad simply take care of all that?
For myself, I definitely do not want to get a credit/debit statement for cab rides that I took weeks ago and barely remember, nor for a month's worth of whatever else I might buy & consume.
Listen, if everyone has decided that cash is useless, please send the cash you don't want to your favorite charity. But for most of us over the age of 30, cash will never go out of style ... even though some of the cashless stores very well may go out of business because they won't take our money!
Wow. If we could only use all this anger and fight against the closure of the east river park.
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