Summers opened in South Williamsburg last year, just down the street from my apartment. I happened to be walking by as they were putting up their sign — "come by next week for our opening!" someone yelled from a ladder as I passed.
I did, and have been stopping in several times a week since, choosing from an ever-changing menu that's grown to include cold press juices, sandwiches, salads, and the best green smoothie on the planet (made with pineapple, banana, spinach, avocado, almond milk, and cardamom).
It's rare to walk past the Summers storefront and find it empty. There's always a group gathered inside, catching up over watermelon limeade, or sitting on the bench out front, dogs on leashes at their side. The owners, Alex Kleinberg and Christopher Taha (known to most by his last name only), have become familiar faces on the block, and friends to many of their neighbors and devoted patrons, myself included.
A health- and eco-conscious plus: the cafe uses organic produce, local dairy, and heritage meats in their sandwiches and juices. Baked goods come from local bakeries, or from Manhattan's Clinton Street Baking Company, a business run by Alex's family.
It's warm, welcoming, always seemingly sunlit, even on the bleakest of winter days. (I spent one particularly dark February afternoon there, eating egg sandwiches and watching surf videos in the middle of a blizzard.)
Summers Juice & Coffee, 155 South 4th Street, (347) 987-3558
Mon-Fri 7:30am - 8pm; Sat-Sun 9am - 9pm
What inspired the surf theme at Summers? Alex and I became friends through surfing. We met at Clinton Street Baking Company, and that was the first thing we talked about. When we opened Summers, we wanted it to be a mix of East and West Coast, since he's from New York, and I'm from California. The cement floors are a little more Brooklyn; the wood ceilings are California-inspired.
And how did you go about planning the menu? We'd never put anything on the menu that we wouldn't want to eat ourselves. We wanted the food to be approachable to everybody — you can be a vegan, or gluten-free, or vegetarian, or eat meat, and find something you like.
Do you have a favorite item? The date smoothie is my favorite. It was inspired by the area where I grew up. There's a place called Indio, which is known for its date farms — one farm in particular, Shields, made the most amazing date shakes with ice cream and malt powder. I thought I could make a healthier version of those with bananas, almond milk, and cacao instead of chocolate. It's my favorite because it's based off of something I loved as a kid.
Thanks so much, Taha and Alex. Visit the Summers website for more information, here.