I REMEMBER WHEN NEIGHBORHOODS USED to feel "neighborly". But as I've been lamenting recently (all over my social media), grand swaths of New York City are being summarily erased of the personality that first made it great and continued to do so for generations.
The personality of every neighborhood was borne of the actual persons that inhabited each neighborhood. But what I and many native and long-time Gothamites have been suffering is the exponential disappearance of businesses started and maintained by people—for years, decades, even generations. People businesses are being run out and replaced by corporate businesses. Every neighborhood more and more losing its unique character.
So I am ever more grateful and relieved to see the small, person-run enterprise still trying to make its mark (or at least make a name for itself), in the shadows of Targets, Duane Reades, Chase banks, and Starbucks.
This most-welcomed enterprise is Café Jax a comfy, friendly, "neighborly" boîte of a coffee joint (housed in the ground level of antique shop The Han Horse) that just opened right down the street from me in tony little YORKVILLE.
As the outside chalkboard informs, Café Jax features high quality coffees (from local, popular STUMPTOWN ROASTERS), and fine, organic teas (from RISHI), as well as sweet and savory pastries (procured from BROOKLYN bakery OVENLY [vegan and gluten-free] baked goods, EAST HARLEM bakery LA TROPEZIENNE, and LOWER EAST HARLEM doughnut shop DOUGH LOCO.
All the offerings are of course delicious, as is the decor, vibe, ambience, etc. I'm an early riser, and I—even after just my first visit—look forward to enjoying peacefully comforting mornings here with a pastry and drink often, on one of the quietest side streets of Yorkville.
New Yorkers don't get to relax that much. Not even in a usually overly kinetic Starbucks. Here, people can hear themselves think. They say "Good Morning!" and "Have a nice day!" to virtual strangers. The staff members our attentive and cordial, and smile naturally, not affectedly.
This relaxed and civil environment must be the intended result of owner LEE MCCORMICK effortless good nature. She is as friendly a host as you'd want when you just need a place to be "chill", not a place to be "cool".
And if just finding a place to relax in this city is a more rare occurrence these days, Lee and her Cafe Jax are a welcome return to neighborhoods being areas where people want to live, not just live in.
Bun Apple Tea!
CAFÉ JAX | 318 East 84th St. (bet. 2nd & 1st Aves.) | 212.510.7084 | | |