Like so many other metropolitan cities, New York changes on a dime. One week you're power walking through SoHo, desperately searching for somewhere to take shelter, and the next you're stumbling across one of New York's best cafes for sipping, eating, and discovering new, up and coming artists.
That's where Two Hands comes in, a cafe built around community, good food, and good vibes. When I sat down with the owners, Henry Roberts and Giles Russell, I had a few things on my mind: what to order (naturally) and the inspiration behind their downtown digs. Read on to meet the duo, and take a peek inside the Little Italy hot spot.
Name, Location, Occupation
Henry Roberts and Giles Russell; 164 Mott St.; Owners, Two Hands Café
Your cafe didn’t come to be over night. Can you tell us about the process of making this dream a reality?
With making any dream a SUCCESSFUL reality it needs hard work and dedication, for us that happened in stages. From visiting coffee shops we liked and discussing the positives and negatives in the early stages, to writing a business plan, looking at commercial real estate for the first time, driving trucks to the Bronx and picking up fridges and painting walls, it's all an experience and for us that experience took over 2 years. Without that journey we wouldn’t have success.
What’s the story behind the name “Two Hands”?
Two Hands was floating around our heads subconsciously because its one of our favorite Australian crime films but it also means so much more. Like naming a band or a dog, you go through some good ones and some not so good ones and Two Hands for us just stuck and felt right.
There’s definitely a strong sense of neighborhood and community at the cafe. What can someone expect when swinging by for a coffee and a small bite?
We definitely tried to bring the community vibe to the café from day one. It’s normal in Sydney or Melbourne for Cafes to have that neighborhood feel to them so it wasn’t something we necessarily planned for, it just happened naturally. We are lucky to have a great mix of customers from locals, tenants from the building, tourists, shoppers and the odd celeb.
We want customers to expect consistency and quality in the food and the coffee. Something new and exciting to check out or learn about, whether it’s a new art instillation or a new charity we are supporting or maybe its some new merchandise in our market place.
Speaking of small bites, what should we order during our next visit?
My favorite item on the menu at the moment is the Corn fritters, gluten free and delicious!
Two Hands is a cafe by day, but frequently doubles as a gallery space by night. Can you tell us a bit about the art and openings?
Essentially once we cleared out the store during construction, we both realized that the space had the potential and size to flip as a gallery or event space. Every 2 months we try and switch up the artwork, supporting local young talent from all over the city.
Let’s talk coffee! Why did you choose to brew Café Integral Coffee?
It’s the best coffee we have had. Simple as that! Cesar Vega the founder and roaster is also one of the better men you will ever meet.
What’s your coffee order?
Henry: Long black (short Americano)
Giles: Double skim decaf caramel mocha with whipped cream and two sugars.