In many parts of the world, mobile cafe businesses have been a popular feature for years, with everything from independent merchants to mobile coffee van franchises offering patrons a convenient way to take a coffee break. Surprising, this trend has been slow to emerge in trendy areas like New York City, a place where its combination of convenience and caffeine would seem to make it a natural choice. However, now that pop up shops have become an appealing option to the East Village set, it appears that mobile cafes have finally arrived in New York. And as these businesses become more and more successful, there is the chance mobile coffee van franchises and pop up cafes could spread across the country.
Take Stand Coffee, for example, a two-man operation that consists of a few kettles and a plywood counter that breaks down into a nearby parked van at 11 am every morning. Because the owners, Daniel Zettner and Bryan Hasho, are loyal customers of the revered sandwich shop Baohaus, the cafe actually sets up shop in the back of the restaurant’s location on 14th street. It’s an unconventional business model, relying on a minimal and temporary set up, but Stand Coffee is doing well: their experimental five-item menu, which often features ingredients like lemon and butter, has drawn acclaim in New York’s art scene, and the shop has accordingly been invited to a number of events, including Art on Paper, InstaCamp, and the Affordable Art Fair.
Zettner and Hasho say that Stand Coffee’s mobile flexibility is one of its biggest advantages: the bare-bones design lets them set up in almost any environment, and they can redesign their operations at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of a given situation. For this reason, a lot of other New York City restaurants and events are reportedly clamoring to work with the pair, but they may have their sites set beyond the Big Apple: they’ve already been booked to brew at Art Market in San Francisco in April. Could this mobile coffee van franchise trend eventually move outside the East Village? Coffee lovers and entrepreneurs will have to wait and see.