Thursday, January 6, 2022

About Hekate Café & Elixir Lounge, opening soon on Avenue B

Photo from early November

Text and photo by Stacie Joy

Lucky Bar owner Abby Ehmann and Brooklyn Roasting Company founder Jim Munson are opening Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge in the weeks ahead at 167 Avenue B between 10th Street and 11th Street.

In a storefront that previously housed a dry cleaners, the new business is across the street from Lucky, the bar Ehmann opened in September 2016.

Here, Ehmann talks about the concept behind Hekate Café and the challenges of operating and opening a business during the pandemic.

What is the concept behind the new venture?

Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge will be a warm space infused with feminine energy, serving coffee and espresso drinks, specialty teas, and magical elixirs. There will also be interesting merchandise for sale with an emphasis on the mystical.

What prompted you to open a second business?

I have had new business ideas percolating — heh — for years; I honestly cannot help myself! Every empty storefront I walk past sparks an idea — what would be good for each space, what I would do with it. I was working on opening a bar/coffee shop/restaurant on the Lower East Side with a couple partners back before the pandemic hit, which obviously put the kibosh on our plans. During the lockdown, I was still thinking about how and where the Hekate concept could become a reality. 

When things started opening up, I looked at several spaces and simply didn’t move fast enough to grab them. Then I would be at work, staring across the street at the FOR RENT BY OWNER sign, and think, could THAT work? I consulted with Jim Munson, my “coffee guy” and chief dreamer at Brooklyn Roasting Co., wondering if we could make a little café work, and we decided to give it a shot! 

The reasonable rent was really the driving factor for this space. I sure wish more landlords would be willing to work with new businesses, as we have so many empty storefronts, which is a disservice to the neighborhood. I have been very fortunate with generous and understanding landlords, both here at my new location and at Lucky.

How did you come up with the concept for the witchcraft-themed spot?

I honestly can’t recall how the concept came to me! It has gone through many iterations, always coming back to, basically, creating magic. I believe people really crave hope and magic in their lives right now, which has been amplified due to the pandemic. People want to believe and be optimistic, which is difficult in times with so much overwhelmingly bad news. I felt compelled to create something with hope and magic. 

And once I decided upon Hekate as the “personality” of the business plan, wonderful things just started happening. People have been seeking me out to collaborate, which I believe is a true necessity to make any business work these days.

How does proximity to Lucky Bar factor into the new location?

Opening a new business right across the street will make it convenient since commuting between locations will only take seconds. Friends who are already coming to Lucky will easily be able to check out Hekate. And my regulars are excited to grab a coffee before or after they’ve had a drink. However, ideally, Hekate will attract an entirely different audience. 

What are some of the challenges and rewards of opening a new business during the pandemic?

Government agencies are always a challenge; for instance, learning that 95% of the awnings you see are illegal and working with the awning company to be compliant while also competitive — well, as competitive as an awning can be. They really don’t make it easy to run a business in this city. 

The pandemic has inspired a whole new level of regulations and even more regulators. I can’t say what the rewards of opening a new business in a pandemic are yet. I am hoping that, as I’ve said, the desire for a little magic in people’s lives, and our ability to offer some of that, will prove to be very rewarding! I know that providing a haven for weirdos, and my customers’ appreciation of that with Lucky, has been extremely gratifying.

You can keep up with the new business and their opening plans here.

23 comments:

Neighbor said...

Sounds great! Both spots were great. Love Lucky and loved Brooklyn while it was open at 2nd and A and was sad to see it go. Best wishes to them

Anonymous said...

Best wishes for this new venture, looking forward to it, love the concept.

Anonymous said...

This is so exciting!!
- The Wednesday Witch

Unknown said...

Thank you! That coffee shop at Avenue A & East Second Street was NOT Brooklyn Roasting. It was someone trying to ride their coattails. This will be the first Brooklyn Roasting location in the East Village. However, they have been providing coffee to Clinton Street Baking Company for years.

Trixie said...

Oh, this is great news!

Choresh Wald said...

This is great!

Anonymous said...

If this will really be coffee then great & I wish them luck. However, so many places start like this & they say they can't survive without a full liquor license. A few decades ago I remember when the 11th Street Bar started out as a Tea Parlor, very briefly.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Witches unite.

Anonymous said...

There's always one negative comment. always. one.

Unknown said...

To the person who is concerned that we will be seeking a liquor license: I own the bar ACROSS THE STREET so I don't really want or need another bar on the SAME BLOCK. Not that that will put anyone's fears to rest since naysayers gonna naysay. But yeah. The goal here is to open a SOBER BAR which would kind of be negated by getting a liquor license.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! Can't wait to see it come to fruition.

Eden Bee said...

This will be my new cafe to sit in and write this winter. The Bean has gotten pretty awful. I am really excited about this!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, and truly fabulous that someone who is NOT a realtor looks at every empty storefront wondering "What could work there? What kind of business could it be?"!

Best of luck, and we are so fortunate to have your energy & enthusiasm here!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a sober bar!! And I love the powerful magic as well.
So many of us can't drink/don't want to drink and lose the social experience. I'm so excited to check out the space when it's up and running

Anonymous said...

Love Lucky's and love Abby. All the best on the new venture.

Unknown said...

So excited for my friend Abby. She is so inspiring.
She is my East Village Mom ( she is too young for it but she is definitely someone who counts a lot to me). I wish her and coffee guy prosperity!!!

highschool411 said...

Can’t wait to come and see the magic that you weave!

La vie est belle said...

Looking forward to checking it out in the spring! Or whenever it opens.

marjorie said...

Yay!! Lots of excitement about this in the SnarlyCheeze home! Mazel tov, Abby!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is great! I don't drink alcohol but would go into Lucky every now and then for cider to support Abby, whom I have know, respected and appreciated for 25 years, but coffee/tea AND magic just around the corner from my apartment - SWEET!!! I'll be a regular!

noble neolani said...

@Unknown

You are not the only one hoping the new place suddenly converts into a bar in the "selling alcohol" way. In a neighborhood which a large precent of retail spaces have become bars I consider your comment a "I got mine who cares about the others" other than what is best for the neighborhood and for those which actually sleep at night.

Abby said...

Noble, I'm not sure who that comment was intended for. (Or if I show up as myself, Abby, owner of Lucky, the bar at 168 and Hekate, the café at 167). But here I am to respond. I an not "hoping the new place suddenly converts into a bar in the 'selling alcohol' way." Nor does anyone else on this thread, from what I can tell. My attitude is absolutely NOT "I got mine who cares about the others" if you think that. Yes, I do have a liquor license at 168 and it has cost me dearly. Owning a bar isn't the giant money making machine it once was but I do love my little oasis, as do many others. We don't keep anyone awake at night, as far as I'm aware. We've never had any complaints. I have no intention of applying for a liquor license at 167. I rented that space SPECIFICALLY because the rent is affordable WITHOUT one. I do hope you will at least give me a chance before you make your decisions about what my intentions are.

Anonymous said...

Abby, I'm sure you're a frequent reader of this blog so you must know that there are people who always make the same comments. Some about bars, others about so-called "free car parking", etc. Best to ignore them, as long as you know you're right, that's all that matters.