It sounds a bit like an urban fairytale: Burnt-out 33-year-old Manhattan talent agent quits his ambitious corporate career, spends seven months subsisting on unemployment checks, considers opening a summer camp or a yoga studio and then, passing an empty storefront on a sunlit Greenwich Village corner, decides to open an artisanal coffee shop.
“There was never a strategy, but it was the ultimate in what seemed like this romantic life. It had to be in the Village, and it was about people coming in and having this community place. I loved coffee. I didn’t know much about it, but it just felt like that would be so fun and exciting,” says Jonathan Rubinstein, founder and CEO of Joe Coffee, which he opened on the corner of Waverly Place and Gay Street in 2003.