Marcy & Myrtle by Harbor Projects
Once intended to be just the design firm's office, this Brooklyn space is now also a cafe
by Chérmelle Edwards
At the intersection of Marcy and Myrtle avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn stands a new cottage-like coffee shop of the same name, Marcy & Myrtle, by interior architecture and design build firm Harbor Projects, and one of its partners’ daughter, Shaina Schochet.
Harbor Projects took over the space—which was once a tire store—with the initial intent of using it as a Brooklyn office space but soon realized it called for something more. “The space was asking to be something else. There’s this huge space, like a storefront, right near the subway and its so transitory, so we thought, 'Why not a coffee?'" says Robin Kops, a partner at Harbor Projects. In an effort to maintain the history of the space—and its charm—Harbor Projects decided to treat it as one of its usual projects by preserving and retrofitting its interiors with design elements that would maintain its original character.
One can’t help but notice the beautiful wood throughout the space including the front doors, around its windows and the bathroom, all of which (including the bathroom sink) were sourced from a hardware architectural salvage company upstate. Because Harbor Projects works with finding materials often, the hand-painted concrete tile behind the coffee bar was easy to come by, “We used it on a previous project from our tile supplier and thought it was a great fit,” says Kops.
With a design mindset of clean and simple, antique fixtures and Edison lightbulbs were installed so that sufficient glowing light could compliment the waves of natural sunlight streaming in its front doors and walk-up window.
While the walk-up window is not active yet for coffee orders, it’s already serving a purpose: “It's a connection to the street, you can stop and chat—it’s a way to say hi and you don’t have to go in the door if you don’t want to. People are coming by and asking, 'Can I get a coffee?' Or, like on the first day, a guy dropped in and just gave us a dollar and wished us good luck. We love that, it's the vibe of the neighborhood,” says Scochet.
For coffee, they're using Unique Coffee Roasters in Staten Island. “We wanted a friendlier coffee, a darker roast and the feel of that Italian mellow café. We want to serve coffee that’s approachable and that tastes good.” The coffee menu is traditional, espresso-based and straightforward. Of note, however, is the one item not seen on most specialty coffee menus: an iced cappuccino, which Scochet says is well-proportioned, including a ratio of foam.
At the coffee bar counter, patrons will notice steel siding and even a steel pastry case containing half a dozen vintage serving plates, which Kops sourced in Williamsburg. All the steel work within is from a local maker, Nelson of Triangle Ironworks, who “can make anything. At the last minute we decided we needed a steel case to hold our pastry dishes and because he has all the materials he uses right in the shop, he was able to get it to us right away,” said Schochet.
While still building out, a local artist by the name of Abuse wrote on the storefront. The team liked it so much they worked the original art into a now framed piece that hangs in the back office, which will eventually become a communal space for patrons, complete with views from its two ceiling skylights. “It was a beautiful piece of art and part of this continual graffiti on the front of the store. We wanted to keep it as a remnant, an artifact of the neighborhood,” Kops explains. With no official advertising except word of mouth, Marcy & Myrtle’s goal is to start small, with good coffee and pastries—with an eventual expansion of light soups, paninis, beer and wine.
Marcy & Myrtle is located at 574 Marcy Ave.
Images courtesy of Harbor Projects