As you enter Manhattan’s newest coffee shop, Flight Crew, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of an espresso machine buzzing, and people mingling over a cup of joe greet you.
However, this is not your typical coffee shop: plane-themed wall décor, vintage stewardesses, and a menu board that appears to be searching for your flight terminal all contribute to the eatery’s aviation theme.
“I adore everything vintage; I adore the 1940s and 1950s, and I adore travelling,” Heather Hnizdil, Flight Crew’s owner, explained. “I feel as though there is a wanderlust aspect to flying that used to be much more like, ‘Ooh, flying,’ and you dressed up to fly, but that is no longer the case — people fly in their pyjamas.”
After earning a degree in printmaking from Kansas State, Hnizdil travelled to Taiwan and worked as a designer for a jazz band. She came up with the band’s name but ended up using it herself.
“When I chose the name Flight Crew for my coffee shop, all these ideas came to mind,” Hnizdil explained. “I could do this, this could be called this, and it spiralled out of control.”
Hnizdil stated that she was uncertain about the next step in her career path following her time abroad. After some prodding from her sisters, Hnizdil decided to resume her business endeavours and relocated to Manhattan.
“You only live once, you know, so you might as well take a chance,” Hnizdil explained. “I thought, ‘Let’s see what goes into it,’ and once I decided to do it, it moved quickly. I began the process in Loveland, Colorado, but one of my sisters works for K-State, and I visited in July and noticed a space was available. Thus, I simply called to enquire about the difference in rent between here and there, and the more I considered it, the more I realised how much I desired to be back in Manhattan.”