Tag Archive | "Java Nation"

Still Roasting

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Java Nation

By Emily J Weitz

There’s no way to talk about Java Nation without acknowledging what it was. For more than 15 years, perched in the Cove just off Main Street, the scent of fresh roasting coffee beckoned people in. The regulars multiplied, and by the end, owner Andres Bedini estimates he was saying hello to 500 people on a first-name basis.

“I didn’t want to close for one day,” says Bedini. “I didn’t want to lose that energy. Every time there was a big event, Java Nation was the center. I studied economics at the University of Maryland but I learned more about economics at Java Nation.”

And the business was certainly not struggling.

“We had our best winter last winter,” says Bedini. “I didn’t want to leave Main Street, but we had to. We split the baby in half. We took the wholesale, the retail beans here, and my daily beverage spread out to other coffee shops. We do a little private blend for the Golden Pear, LT, Provisions.”

Along with being a gathering place, a place where people discussed economics and politics and came together at the most potent moments in our country’s history, there was another thing that made Java Nation unique: the giant coffee roaster that makes the distinct aroma of Java Nation’s own fresh roasted coffee.

“Roasting is the most important part of the business,” says Bedini. “Whoever the roaster is, that’s who owns the brand. If you’re in a coffee shop and you’re selling someone else’s coffee, someone else owns your coffee. This differentiates us from everybody else. You can buy Starbuck’s coffee anywhere. But owning the brand, you have the flexibility.”

This means that Andres and his wife and business partner Cheryl can get creative with their blends.

“We invented the Bonacker,” says Bedini. “It’s a strong, full-bodied coffee with a smoky aftertaste. You could try to copy that mixture, but we own the recipe.”

The other reason the roaster is so integral to the business is it’s great advertising, says Bedini.

“You don’t have to advertise,” he says. “You just turn on the roaster, open the door, and people will show up. Tucked away in the alley, we were a local secret at first.”
But people followed their noses and found their way in. Bedini hopes the same will happen in Bridgehampton.

Keeping the roaster, and that important part of Java Nation’s identity, has been key in keeping their spirits up during this major move.

“You can buy a latte in a lot of places,” Bedini says, “but it’s hard to find a coffee roasted that day from a unique country. The shop was so busy that we were selling same day, or one-day-old roasted coffee. In other places, the coffee may sit on the shelf for six months.”
That fresh quality is what Java Nation has going for it, and that’s what they’re selling to local businesses as they work on increasing the wholesale side of things.

“We’ve approached restaurants and sent out samples,” says Bedini. “We’re actively seeking new customers for wholesale. We added Cavaniola’s, Provisions, Tutto Il Giorno and Dockside… I give them samples to try in their machinery.”

Once they’ve tried it, Bedini says these vendors have the flexibility to work with Java Nation.
“Not only do we offer same day roasting and delivery,” he says. “Since we’re the roaster, we can custom roast. If there’s a specific origin they like we’ll carry it for them. We make custom blends and custom roasts.”

The move from the Cove was not an easy one.

“The last day, we roasted a thousand pounds in the Cove,” says Bedini. “Then we took the wires apart, and took apart the roaster in two pieces. The top is five hundred pounds, the bottom is a thousand pounds. My friends hoisted it up, and we drove it over and just left it here a few days. In early May, we started roasting again.”

Bedini hopes that one day he and Cheryl can open a small retail location in Sag Harbor, without the roaster, just to get that other half of the Java Nation identity back. Until then, you’ll find pieces of Java Nation scattered about Sag Harbor. If you’re looking for the heart of it, go to Bridgehampton, and follow your nose.


Java Moves to Bridge

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Above: Musician Dan Bailey played music through the evening as Java Nation celebrated its last hours in Sag Harbor on Sunday, April 15.

By Claire Walla

To the beat of a drum and the melodic sound of a mandolin, Andrew Bedini carried the last pieces of his infamous coffee roaster through the doorway of his former Sag Harbor coffee shop, down the brick steps of the alleyway where people used to gather for hours with steaming cups of brew, and into a pick-up truck waiting to cart the machine to the other side of town.

After 17-and-a-half years in Sag Harbor, Java Nation will no longer fill the village with the scent of slow-roasted beans. As of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, the coffee shop shut its doors in Sag Harbor.

Groups of locals and Java Nation regulars gathered in the alleyway as Bedini and a handful of volunteers deconstructed the entire coffee shop — including the 1,000-pound roaster — and took it piece-by-piece to 112 Maple Lane in Bridgehampton, Java Nation’s new home. The entire move took about two days, Bedini said, adding that Java Nation is on track to reopen at its new location, nestled against the Bridgehampton railroad platform, the first weekend in May.

Since news broke in January that the coffee shop would be forced out of its Sag Harbor location, bitter remarks have circulated in the community, pitting Java Nation against its (now-former) landlord, who will rent the space to a new coffee-shop venture. However, Java’s last hours were more a celebration than a teary-eyed farewell.

A white board propped up on one of the few remaining tables inside the coffee shop explained the Bedini’s position best: “Although heinous and unscrupulous business practices created this situation, we are excited for the chance to expand and reformat the business that is our passion.”

The Bedini’s had been scrambling for a new location for the past few months.  Though they ardently pursued a few locations in Sag Harbor — including Marty’s Barber Shop, the Grenning Gallery and the first-floor corner space in the Bay Street Plaza — all prospects fell through.

The Bridgehampton spot surfaced about three weeks ago when Bedini said a friend simply drove by and noticed it was available. Soon after, Bedini met with building owner Ray Wesnofske, who, he said, “shook my hand and gave me the key the same day.”

The Bedinis officially signed a five-year lease agreement for the space on Friday.

At 1,200 square feet, the new location is about twice the size of the Sag Harbor shop and will primarily serve as a roasting location. That strip of businesses on Maple Lane is zoned “light industrial,” which means no more than 50 percent of the space can be used for retail.

While Java Nation will continue to sell bags of beans and serve cups of coffee — as well as a couple varieties of pastry — the new location won’t be able to function as a gathering space as it had in Sag Harbor.

While sitting at a wrought-iron table in the middle of the alleyway last Sunday evening, Debra Galloway enjoyed the last few hours at her favorite coffee shop. It has sentimental meaning for her, she said, having opened in Sag Harbor the very same week she moved into the village. In fact, her two children — Rakijah, 30, and Suleyman, 23 — had their first jobs there.

“It’s like home,” she said.  “It’s family.  Cheryl and Andrew were mentors to my children.

“Everyone’s very upset,” she added of the move.

But, when asked whether she would now travel to Bridgehampton for a cup of joe, she replied in an instant: “Absolutely.”

Sag Harbor resident and Java Nation fixture David Slater shared the table with Galloway during the festivities on Sunday.  But, he said he wasn’t so sure he would follow Galloway’s example and head down the turnpike for his regular cup of coffee.

“Sometimes I might go,” he said.  “But with the current gas crunch, it won’t be a regular thing.”

Slater is part of a group of Sag Harbor locals who used to frequent Java Nation, spending afternoons socializing in the alleyway.  Now, with Java gone, he said he’ll probably buy his coffee from Sylvester & Co. or Espressos.

As for the chit-chat, “that group will find a way,” Slater said.  “A lot of the people who hung out in this alleyway used to hang out on the benches on Main Street,” he explained.  “I see that as a reoccurring thing.”

The Changing Face of Main Street, Sag Harbor

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One of the things North Haven artist April Gornik loves most about coming into Sag Harbor Village is the smell of roasting coffee beans emanating from Java Nation, a veritable Sag Harbor institution tucked into the Shopping Cove in the heart of the business district.

For 17 years patrons have enjoyed Cheryl and Andres Bedini’s coffee shop, where beans are roasted fresh every day. While tucking into copies of local newspapers and The New York Times, customers would often be treated to the debates of die-hard patrons loudly discussing the news of the world and the Village of Sag Harbor while sucking down their third or fourth cup of coffee.

However, after January 31, Java Nation customers will no longer be able to enjoy their coffee while sitting on one of the café’s stools or in its iconic window seat. On Tuesday, Andres confirmed that while he was in negotiation to renew his lease on the space, property owner Bruce Slovin informed him that Tisha Collette, of Collette Designer Consignment, was given a lease for the space.

Bedini said he was told Collette would help create “a new upscale environment,” and had agreed to fund an extensive renovation and pay more in terms of rent.

Bedini was told he would need to leave as his lease expires on February 1. He said he is committed to reopening Java Nation in Sag Harbor, and hopes to find his new location on Main Street before his lease is up in order to have a seamless transition.

“I don’t want to close for even a day,” said Bedini on Tuesday.

However, he added that he may have to roast his coffee off-site, which means the days of Sag Harbor smelling of roasted beans are likely over.

On Monday, Collette said she plans to renovate the space — “a full gutting,” she said — in February and reopen in March. In addition to an espresso bar, Collette said she will offer a selection of teas, a large assortment of pastries as well as salads and soups created off-site.

The change is one several taking place in Sag Harbor’s business district, which Bedini noted has more shuttered stores than he has seen in 17 years of business in the village.

The building many locals call “Fort Apache,” including the former Cigar Bar, is mostly empty. There are several spaces also available on Route 114, as well as on Madison Street. The Grenning Gallery building on Washington Street is also for sale, and BikeHampton recently lost their Main Street space.

At the end of the summer, the Whalers Cleaners & Tailors closed after being open since 1962. Taken over by Reno Salsedo in 1994, the business has since had a “for rent” sign in the window with a Manhattan number for interested parties.

His brother, Dan Salsedo operated the Ice Cream Club and Vincenzo’s Pizza in the same building, and also shuttered his doors this fall.

On Monday, Salsedo said he closed because the rent was too expensive, and after 14 years of business he was ready to move on.

“I got out while the getting was good,” he said.

Salsedo was fortunate in that he was able to sell the remainder of his lease through local commercial property owner Hal Zwick, who is also the director of commercial real estate for Devlin McNiff.

Zwick said he expected to close on that lease this week, and that as soon as the property became available there was interest.

“There are people looking to do business in Sag Harbor,” said Zwick.

He added that with the recession ending, and commercial real estate too expensive in East Hampton Village, many clients are looking to Sag Harbor or Bridgehampton to set up shop.

Zwick acknowledged that the price of doing business in Sag Harbor is getting more expensive.

“You have a situation where you are dependent on your landlord,” he said. “They are often willing to extend your lease, but the rents are going up and that is something local businesses will have to watch. It is supply and demand. I got 50 calls for Danny’s place when it closed.”

Zwick said he does not see Sag Harbor Village morphing into another East Hampton Village.

“I don’t think we will find a Tiffany’s here, but we will see some of the smaller downtown shops from Manhattan coming to Sag Harbor when they want to open a shop in the Hamptons,” he said.

On Wednesday, Save Sag Harbor board member Jane Young said the organization was convening a meeting after the holidays to discuss the changes happening in downtown Sag Harbor.

“We are aware of what is going on and are brainstorming, but this is a complex problem,” she said.

For a local businessman like Salsedo, the writing is already on the wall.

“Without a doubt, Sag Harbor is changing and it’s inevitable,” he said. “I think eventually it will be just like East Hampton.”