Setting Up Shop: A Welcome Arrival
Our city's choice cafe, before they even opened.
From Triple Cities Carousel, March 2015.
Beauty is a rare thing, yet it is everywhere. With an appreciation for simplicity, and a belief that Binghamton is ready to enjoy a lucidly realized space, The Shop at 219 Washington Street will be opening this month. This café and bar was built on the understanding that, when refined to its essence, beauty is revealed.
I felt the tone of the town shifting when I first stepped inside, even though it was a (nearly finished) work-in-progress. With natural light beaming in from opposite angles, minimalistic design, and the promise of excellent espresso, fine booze, and delicious crepes, I could see myself lingering here from day through night.
The clear and vibrant energy inside The Shop is the result of impeccable execution of an idea many years in the making. “We started the whole project with this dream,” says Eugenie, a co-owner. “It is the manifestation of a long-term goal.”
This establishment may be a sign that Binghamton has arrived, if arrival is measured by the presence of a truly hip place to spend one’s time: a “third place”- not your home, not your job, but a place where people can come together and share ideas. Sitting at a wooden table, I felt perfectly comfortable writing, as if this were the place I had always come to do my work and sip a latte.
It was on a train from Madrid to Barcelona that the owners decided to make the dream of The Shop idea a reality. “We had been watching Binghamton change for so many years, and there was a need for a place where we could hang out,” recalls Zoran, the other half behind this operation. “We felt that Binghamton was ready.”
The long road that led to the creation of this space is evident in every detail of its design. “We built this entire place,” Eugenie beams, “appreciating materials that are at an early stage in their lifecycle, so fewer resources are being used.” They purchased many of their materials from Build It Green in Astoria, Queens (a neighborhood dear to the hearts of the owners), and their chairs were handcrafted from repurposed steel and wood by Recycled Brooklyn.
This is not to say that they have neglected local makers: the steel table bases were forged by a woman in Kirkwood, and Creative Woodworks built the bar, based on Zoran’s design concept. The Shop’s walls will feature an urban industrial landscape painted by a local artist. Giving much credit to the community that has supported them through this entire process, the components of the space reflect their appreciation.
“We want to highlight the beauty of this region, and the creativity of the people who live here,” says Eugenie. To keep the fare local (with the exception of special treats that can only be found overseas), they will be offering Gimme! Coffee out of Ithaca, as well as regional spirits and beer, and exclusively domestic wine. There will also be sweet and savory crepes made in-house, along with simple share plates of charcuterie.
The Shop is the product of a leap of faith, and an offering to our area. “The landscape is changing and moving in the right direction,” Zoran reflects. Eugenie agrees: “This is a growing, healthy, urban place.” The creation of a classy yet approachable establishment downtown is a welcome addition, and as Zoran puts it, “it’s a collective effort to give something to this town.”
Inside The Shop, one could feel the future of Binghamton realized to its full potential, as we continue to chip away the old paint and nurture the essence to uncover true beauty. We now have the opportunity to enjoy the finer things in a relaxed and welcoming space. “We love beauty,” says Eugenie, and her surroundings agree. “Maybe we’re just dreamers,” Zoran muses. “We’ll find out soon enough.”