The Sams are talking about how they first met.
“He was wearing a vest and a fedora hat,” says Sam Penix, founder and co-owner of Everyman Espresso in Park Slope. Penix is speaking of the other co-owner standing right next to him — Sam Lewontin. “His wardrobe has improved, and so has his coffee.”
These are the Sams, “or Sam Squared, whatever you want to call us,” Lewontin says to a brand new customer.
While they like to tweak each other, the duo isn’t kidding around about their damn fine coffee.
Everyman Espresso’s third location had its soft opening yesterday, February 15, at 162 5th Avenue (near Degraw Street) in Park Slope. Penix and Lewontin met eight years ago, and have been partnering in coffee crime ever since.
Their SoHo shop came first, located at 301 West Broadway (at Canal Street), followed by their Union Square outpost at 136 East 13th Street at Classic Stage Company.
“I love my ten-minute walk to work,” says Lewontin, who lives in Fort Greene near the Barclays Center and enjoys his commute to the new Everyman digs. And love it seems to be. The welcoming Sams were slinging Counter Culture coffee (not just espresso by any means) and have created a “pastry-centric” menu.
And yes, it’s damn fine coffee, as per the memorable line by Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks. Any coffee aficionado remembers actor Kyle MacLachlin’s satisfied smile as he sips his joe at the Double R Diner.
“Agent Cooper forever,” says Lewontin.
The new coffee shop replaces Venticinque Cafe, which closed last July. As a personal fan, I paid homage to that previous shop when I wrote the 25 reasons about why it would be missed.
According to the new owners, Venticinque’s closing is not a sad story at all. The previous owner — who had been running the cafe for six years — is the landlord of the building. “He approached us,” explains Lewontin. Since Penix had been looking for a third space, the synergy worked.
The space is bright and crisp, designed by architect Jane Kim. Kim tricks the eye by making the 400-square-foot space look much larger than the previous Venticinque. Customer flow is already working, and they’ve kept the long counter in the back for the coffee bar experience.
Kim has designed the other two Everyman shops. “We all agree in eschewing the commercial look,” says Lewontin.
And the Sams dig their new neighbors as well.
Both Lewontin and Penix are already big fans of Vietnamese gastropub Bricolage (highly recommended by yours truly), their next door neighbor. Penix’s current favorite is their steak sandwich, which he often orders for lunch.
He also credits Bricolage’s co-chef Ed Lin for being a welcoming neighbor. The two businesses share the building’s basement. “Ed has been very helpful navigating us as we get started,” Penix said.
And while coffee is the main event here, the Sams have used their acumen to do other impressive work. The two actually first met at a “Latte Throwdown” in Seattle that Penix organized. The event raised funds for the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
Just two days in, the Sams are relaxed, welcoming, and confident. Park Slope is lucky to have these damn fine new neighbors.
Where: 162 5th Avenue near Degraw Street, Park Slope
Hours: Weekdays, 7am-7pm; Weekends, 8am-7pm, although subject to change.