An Australian chef opens up for coffee lovers
With an opportunity to make a mark in NYC, Eliot, an Australian chef, opens his first café stateside. The 175-square-foot space he found in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea was disheveled and in need of a makeover. He came to Sweeten, a renovation platform connecting renovators with vetted general contractors, and found a contractor who would transform it into an espresso and coffee shop with the feeling of an Aussie beachside.
“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten
PROJECT: An entrepreneur opens his first storefront in NYC
LOCATION: 423 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan, New York
RENOVATION TEAM: Sweeten general contractor
INTERVIEW WITH: Clovelly Coffee founder Eliot Ritchie
Sweeten: What is Clovelly Coffee?
Eliot: Clovelly is an extension of my love for the Australian café culture. We carefully select coffee cherries from around the world, which are roasted and brewed with love and passion. Our goal was to create a cozy space in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Here, you can engage with your barista while enjoying a coffee from our weekly rotating menu of single-origin beans and pastries.
Sweeten: Where did the idea for the business come from?
Eliot: Clovelly Coffee is a café inspired by Clovelly, a Sydney beachside suburb and my Australian hometown.
Sweeten: What led to the opening of this new brick-and-mortar space?
Eliot: After making the move to Manhattan with my wife, we quickly connected with this vibrant city and the New Yorkers who shared the love for coffee.
As a working chef in Sydney, I ran my first successful café for five years. Now in New York, Clovelly is a family-owned business and my second venture in continuing my passion for coffee and food with an Aussie edge.
Sweeten: How does your new café design and the materials used represent your brand?
Eliot: The design of the space has a distinct beach-y feel. The use of white evokes an Aussie beachside café feel with gold/brass finishes. By adding splashes of yellow and blue (pulling from the colorful textures found at Clovelly Beach), we recreated the golden sun and sand and the blue in the Pacific Ocean from our hometown.
Sweeten: How was your vision executed by working with your Sweeten general contractor?
Eliot: Our contractor was instrumental in the process. They helped us find solutions in real-time and helped us stay on budget. They also offered alternatives to issues that arose.
In a small space, we had challenges fitting in plumbing pipes. However, by making adjustments to walls and getting creative with the direction of the pipes, we were able to make it all fit.
Sweeten: How did you, as a client, work with Sweeten?
Eliot: Sweeten kept in contact with me throughout the process. We reached out to them whenever we needed extra advice or guidance.
Sweeten: How do you think Sweeten can help entrepreneurial business owners like yourself?
Eliot: They are experts at connecting you with a contractor who is the right fit for you. They also help you interpret quotes so you can make this crucial decision.
Sweeten: Can you describe the “before” space?
Eliot: It was damaged and messy, including cracks in the floor tiles.
Sweeten: What’s next for the brand?
Eliot: We just launched a catering menu, with a selection of artisan pastries and freshly brewed coffee. I’m also looking to add a second location with seating.
Head to Chelsea for Clovelly Coffee’s signature Double Ristretto Flat White and vegan and gluten-free baked goods.
Opening a restaurant? Here’s a breakdown of a renovation cost guide of elements from MEPs to permits.
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