Friends & Neighbors / Summers.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In Friends & Neighbors, I'll introduce you to some of my favorite creative businesses in Williamsburg. With a new expensive store or chain restaurant opening seemingly every week, there's been much talk these days about how Williamsburg is "over." This series showcases shops, restaurants, and studios that make the neighborhood special, and prove that integrity, creativity, and an artistic spirit are still alive and well. They're places that make me proud to live here, and to call the faces behind their counters neighborsPhotographs by Jacquelyne Pierson.

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.)

Says Taha, "We didn't want it to be the type of intimidating juice bar that you walk into and feel like you need to be a yoga instructor or just coming back from the gym to be there. We want to make food for everyone."

Summers Juice & Coffee, 155 South 4th Street, (347) 987-3558
Mon-Fri 7:30am - 8pm; Sat-Sun 9am - 9pm

Five Minutes with Taha:

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.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sho - You should do one on Mast Brothers and OddFellows Ice Cream!

Crystal said...

i can't wait to visit next time i'm in town!

cary said...

On my must go place list when I come in November. Date smoothie! yum.

Kathy said...

Love this interview, and their juices!

burntfeather said...

All those smoothies sound divine - I think it's great your showcasing your local peeps, my only wish is that I lived closer!

Shoko said...

Fee, come visit!

Shoko said...

Anon, Mast Brothers to come! And yes, OddFellows! Noted :)

sw said...

The colours! Such happy photos- it reflects your writing :) The place looks and sounds SO good. Enjoyed reading this write-up.

girlseeksplace said...

So cool. I discovered a new to me coffee shop in my new home yesterday and I can't wait to go back. I am all about supporting local businesses.

Shoko said...

Thank you, SW!

Brianna, that's awesome! Write about it!

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