The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Support the Coffee House on Rogers!

Check out the Kickstarter campaign. Give a little money and invest in your neighborhood. Very sweet. Good luck Rich and Annalisa!


Dan Freed said...

I teared up when I watched this. What an adorable family. But must I really DONATE to get a coffee shop started? I try to patronize the local coffee shops, but the truth is they are too expensive, probably because their rent is too high. I feel like I am supporting them in a losing battle.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Hey Dan! Longtime!

I hear ya. I think it's interesting though that you would think by asking for money from the community it's somehow different than asking for it from their uncles or a bank. We can vote with our wallets on this one. Personally, I'm cool with it and wish them the best.

I think the answer is no, you don't have to donate.

Anonymous said...

Asking for donations from neighbors and strangers to fund a business versus taking a loan from a bank or relative are a bit different no?

Maybe I'm not understanding the nature of kick starter but from what I read on the site there seems to be no obligation to pay anyone back no matter what the outcome of the business, good or bad. Seems a bit asymmetric

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I was referring to the social acceptability of the Kickstarter model, which is pretty ubiquitous.

I understand that people are uncomfortable with donating to a commercial venture. But it's happening all the time. In a way, small businesses are more like dreams, and sometimes Samaritans like to step in and help.

The Amish raise barns don't they? Gee whiz, does no one has any collective spirit anymore? I guess I'll have to go back to Samarita where such gestures aren't held up for ridicule.

Oh, and by the way, having done plenty of these kinds of campaigns for various things, there's also the killer marketing angle. Even if you don't give, now you know about the store and the story behind the store. Pretty slick, Rick.

Anonymous said...

They're already undertaking a big risk to open a business on the stretch of a street where there are no other restaurants or cafes, so although I agree about Kickstarter campaigns starting to get obnoxious by asking for donations for ventures that don't share the profits, in this case there will be great benefits to those living nearby so I can see those people being willing to contribute something. We will.

cheryl on parkside ave said...

Have contributed and will absolutely support this coffee shop. Supporting and helping our local businesses to succeed, is an important element in the development of our community.

Bob Marvin said...

FWIW I made a contribution. For many years I've thought that Rogers Ave. had the potential to become a center for the arts. We already have galleries, an antique shop, and the blacksmith and hornsmith discussed on this blog last week. This cafe, with its emphasis on the arts, would continue that trend.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

It's a wide avenue. Looks great now that it's been repaved for the Select Bus Service. I mean, Joni ain't gonna sing about it like she did the Champs-Élysées, but it's got undeniable je ne sais quoi. Plus it's right in the middle of the Bob Thomason defined Bob Marvin defended borders of (urg) PLG. So if you're walking from New York Ave to the park, you can stop in for a pick-me-up to get yourself all the way to the park.

Alex said...

I think Rogers has potential, too. Does SBS still offer those storefront improvement grants? This new coffee house could benefit. Also, Landmark Antiques could GREATLY benefit, those tinted windows are highly unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago there was a coffee shop/sandwich shop/performance venue on Cortelyou Road named Vox Pop.

Its proprietor, Sander Hicks, ran the place into the ground -- unpaid bills -- causing the place to be padlocked by the marshal. To bail himself out, he appealed to the community to pay off his unpaid bills, mainly fines owed to the health department and some unpaid taxes.

Vox was enjoyed by a lot of people, so the bailout appeal was met with enough cash to cover the bills Sander said he was supposed to pay. However, he lied about the amount. It was at least twice as much as he claimed. Thus, the capital supplied by people of goodwill disappeared, so he cranked up his audacity and came back and asked for more, though the second time around a new manager was in charge of Vox and she solicited the contributions.

Of course the business collapsed, he ran off with some of the donated cash, and the building was vacated for a few years. Now, a new venue is about to open in the old Vox space, financed, as far as I know, in the usual way.

Sander liked to talk about his sense of fairness, and how he would sell only "fair-trade" coffee, and how he would pay his staff a wage well above the minimum allowable rate. However, to do that he had to stiff various city agencies that eventually shut him down.

Regarding coffee shops, it's better to open with a good machine and some tasty food. Get the revenue flowing in, then begin to drive the business toward the vision.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Thanks Killjoy Larouche. I wrote about Sander "Truther" Voxpop here and your story is nothing knew. That dude was a psychopath. Have you seen the vids of him holding court upstate on the events of 9/11?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

A few years ago, a dear friend's wife lost nearly everything when it was revealed that nearly her entire net worth was managed by a gentleman by the name of Bernie.

Not long before that I had placed $1,000 into the equity of a long trusted name in banking called Bear Stearns. A learned friend in the industry told me they were severely undervalued and that they would surely rise again. Trusting that no nearly 100-year-old investment firm with billions in assets could ever fail, I heeded the advice.

Laissez Faire capitalismo, my dear amigo Adamymous Smith, is a fickle mistress. These days I'd rather give $25 to a friend in the 'hood and lose it all than $1,000 to BS and have it turn into $25 in JP Morgan Chase stock. Jamie Dimon is getting everything he deserves, if you ask my not so humble opinion. What an ass.

Anonymous said...

Sander held some "investment meetings" at Vox, during which he tried to sell the idea that small coffee shops had a big edge over Starbucks and all we had to do was hand him some cash and we could sit back and collect big dividends. I went to one of the meetings and noted that he used his pregnant wife as a prop for softening up the crowd.

As for his views on 9/11, well, that was a focus of the book-store section of Vox. He had a decided affinity for the mentally ill, as all his "sources" for his 9/11 conspiracy theories always were.

Anyway, if the new coffee shop is in a good location and they brew a good cup, people will patronize the place even if it's a work in progress. Like I said, better to get the doors open and the revenue flowing as soon as possible. Scale back a little for now, if necessary. But get the doors open.

Of course a coffee shop in an edgy area is exactly the kind of place that reflects a changing of the local demographic. Undoubtedly the proprietors are putting their chips on the kind of changes that appear when members of a new tribe migrate to the area. Open range, blue skies, pure water, plenty buffalo.

Anonymous said...


Capitalism was not connected in any way to Bernie Madoff. He was obviously a captain of wealth redistribution, much like our current administration.

Bernie ran a scam. A Ponzie Scheme, which worked and succeeded in the way scams usually work.

Like this: One person says to another "Oh yeah, I've got my money with Bernie. He's great. I make 15 percent a year, every year". And the listener, because he trusts the talker, feels an implicit trust for Bernie. So Bernie gets a new client. That's why they call it a Confidence Game.

Bear Stearns. Well, Bear had a lot of years of rising stock prices. Another time I'll explain why Bear crashed the way it did. It didn't have to end the way it did, but Wall Street is a jungle, and unless you worked at Bear, you wouldn't object to its disappearance.

babs said...

Was your comment about Samarita meant as a joke, Q? Because, actually, the residents of Samaria (Samaritans) didn't get along with the Jews, and so were not generally considered nice people. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, it was that least-likely of people who helped a wounded traveller who'd been passed over by a priest and a noble.

Just a nice way of remembering not to lump all members of any one group together.

No repayment is expected or promised on Kickstarter (or any of the other crowdfunding sites out there, like IndieGoGo or IOBY); we're all just helping out projects we believe in (and sometimes getting free gifts, like a cup of coffee and a pastry that I can't wait to have around the corner from my house!).

Clarkson FlatBed said...

What is this thing you call joke Babs? You have this thing in your land? I have heard of this thing. I must try it. I heard it makes the people happy, no?

babs said...

It did me :) But I do think it was also a nice way to remind people not to assume that all members of any particular group are the same (i.e., "new people" vs. "old timers.")

rose said...

As I can only drink organic coffee, and often have to make it myself, I welcome the idea of walking to a store and grab a cup. This is great news! I will definitely contribute.

Unknown said...

Hello PLG,

As the owners of Brooklyn Clean Bean my wife and I thought we should chime in on the subject. First, I’d like to thank Tim for maintaining The Q at Parkside, which provides an open forum and allows us to share ideas and communicate. This continued communication and interest of residents in PLG is one of the strengths of our neighborhood. Also, we have met so many wonderful people who have invited us into there homes and donated tools & supplies to the project - a truly great experience thus far - a huge thank you.

Since we see that there is some confusion and criticism, my wife and I are open to having a Q & A session at the cafe later this month. I just have to get the place presentable. So stay posted for that. Now to address some of the questions -

Why should anyone fund this business?

It’s a good question. Yes, it is a business, but it’s also a communal project, and the 3 main ideas that the business is centered on are Health, Community & Education. We want to bring a healthy food option to Rogers Ave and create a space that can be used as a meeting place to not only share each others company, but learn about each other and share learning experiences.

So it works like this -

Brooklyn Clean Bean will serve organic, fair-trade & all-natural products. It will allow for people to come together in our community & enjoy high-quality, healthy food, right here in PLG instead of having to go to another neighborhood. It will also be family friendly and boast a children’s section that will have puzzles, books and toys. Lastly, we will also promote art and education through our cafe by providing free space in the evenings for artists and educators to teach classes to both children and adults. This way the classes can be discounted and affordable since the artists and educators will not have to pay us rent. We feel this is an amazing opportunity to bring art, dance, music, language, & culinary classes to our neighborhood for both young and old. Eventually, we hope to renovate and rent the back garage - dedicating it to a space for education and communal activities.

Why the kickstarter campaign?

We understand the criticism, but if you take the time to read about our mission and think about how the neighborhood will benefit from the coffee shop - as in employment, health, creativity, education, community - a shared effort here is a special way to make this work - each pledge has tremendous meaning attached to it and it will be something that everyone can be proud of.

The funding from kickstarter represents only a portion of the initial investment. We would not feel comfortable looking to our community, family and friends to fund the entire project. We’ve already invested our savings and continue to use our current income as a resource to purchase the necessary items and services to get the business started.

We have applied for loans but the process for us is long as it includes creating a business plan and providing projections - which is quite complex for a business of this nature. Unfortunately most banks do not provide start-up loans, so we are working with several agencies, including NYC Business Solutions, CAMBA & the SBA. We did complete our business plan and projections and have submitted loan applications. We are currently awaiting their response.

We welcome questions, concerns and comments and will keep sending out updates.

Thanks for reading!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Thanks for chiming in Richard! So glad to welcome you to the Biz Mix.

To Anon at 2:03 however:

Tais-toi, monsoeur bag de douche. I understand both ponzi schemes and the bear story in depth and needn't your patronizing rebuts. My point was that your worldview leaves wide open the door for scams, deceit, and barbarians at the gate. Perhaps you have some argument about free flow of capital, but when we let it flow too free it actually ground to a terrifying halt, with cash (money markets) actually breaking the buck.

Let's stick to coffee. I'm looking forward to patronizing Rich's shop, not patronizing bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Regarding funding of the coffee shop -- one avenue to pursue is the annual business plan competition run through the Brooklyn Public Library.

It was by winning this competition that Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene received $15,000.

Clarkson, as for Bear Stearns, well, it's pretty clear you don't understand what happened. However, you were right about one part -- "we" let capital flow too freely.

"We" put capital in the hands of deadbeats -- home-buyers -- asking them only to sign a document saying they really, really, really promise to pay it back, maybe. And "we" allowed them to borrow 100 percent of the purchase price of the property, because who the heck should be asked to cough up a down-payment to insulate the buyer, the lender and the banking system from loss?

Soooo, keep in mind that it was Congress that gave the okay for everything that went wrong. If 10 percent downpayments had been mandatory, there would have been no mortgage/housing crisis. But Congress can't buy votes with ideas like that.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Alright, then you agree that more regulation of banks is a good thing. Sorry, I thought we would have disagreed. Blaming it on unsophisticated homebuyers? Pathetic. Yeah there were some schemers. But since when is it not the banks job to do due diligence? And if you're talking Fannie and Freddie, well yeah they were completely ignored. But where was the Treasury secretary and Fed chair through all this? A lot of people could have called the bluff and didn't.

Having read a couple books on Bear (it was a sick obsession) I'm not sure what part of its collapse you're referring to, but you have my email if you'd like to take it offline.

Now...ponzi schemes? The greatest one of all time is global finance. Or taken on a level anyone can follow, what is a bank (remember the S&L crisis?) but a Ponzi? Depending on future investors to pay back today's withdrawals? Every night Wall Street firms borrow each others balance sheets in order to make their fictional gains and losses look real. Every so often we get a glimpse of what's really going on...a very few savvy shysters skimming millions of nickels off every transaction day in and day out. Until they can't cover their bet, and the bookies come calling. A sudden run on the bank, and it's just the same as if all of Madoff's clients clamored to get out at once.

Ponzi. Fonzie. Ralph Malph. Malfeasance. Makes you think.

Anonymous said...


When it comes to the banking industry, the key for Congress is to create the right legislation. Not MORE regulation. The banking industry is regulated in every direction, front to back, top to bottom, except in a few critical ways -- because some forms of regulation don't sit well with voters -- like telling them they can't borrow 100 percent of the purchase price of a house.

Telling buyers they should put 10 or 20 percent down sounds like a plot to keep people with no savings from actually buying a house. And a plot to stop people with no downpayment money from buying sounds like a racist plot. So, it becomes legally permissible to let a person borrow every dime he needs to get into a house, and he had been able to do it with nothing more than his signature.

Sophistication of the buyer has no role here. A borrower knows what his monthly mortgage payment will be. Just like a renter. What happens when a renter stops paying his rent? Eventually he gets evicted. What happens when someone stops paying his mortgage? Like a renter, he gets evicted.

However, if he bought his house with no money down, he can walk away without losing his downpayment money, As though he were a renter.

Buyers may not have cynically planned to default because there's no upside. But everyone borrowing 100 percent of the purchase price jokes to himself about what's the worst that can happen. And, well, it's not that bad.

In short, anyone buying a house with 100 percent borrowed money is SPECULATING in the real estate market. The buyer may not consciously think of his transaction this way, but due to the infinite leverage, he is speculating. No two ways about it.

No doubt many thought if things got a little rocky they could just sell and clear the books. But, the real estate market passed the tipping point and that exit strategy lost its validity.

As for books about Bear Stearns, if they were written by either Greg Palast or Matt Taibbi, their value is doubtful. William Cohan is good, however. In short, Bear took the strategy of Lending Long and Borrowing Short to an extreme that backfired on one bad day.

Regarding the Savings and Loan Crisis -- that was triggered by Jimmy Carter when he ended Regulation Q. Rather than make the smart move -- which would have allowed banks to acquire Savings and Loans (the two were bound by different rules and regulations) Carter's administration listened to the S&L people who only wanted to save their own jobs by protecting an industry that had become a dinosaur.

So Reg Q, which set limits for S&L lending, was ended, and the slide toward catastrophe began.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I miss inflation.

Anonymous said...

I am very fearful that your statement Q could have dire consequences for our country in a few short years. We may be entering a huge deflationary period, which will bring upon us an economic collapse of epic proportions. This collapse will be more devasting than the Great Depression.

It coincides perfectly with the ideas of Neil Strauss and the Fourth Turning being upon us. His ideas of major events occur in Generational shifts is very interesting. This Fourth Turning will last until 2025 and create major changes in our current form of finance and government. If I were you I would sell all your assets and just buy gold bars.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Thanks for that 7/11. I needed a good chuckle, since Neil Strauss is a great rock critic and wrote that book about how to be a pickup artist. That Fourth Turning sounds like a doozy. I'll have to check it out. I hope it's not one of those doomsday cults - so many rules! My only asset is my house though and I don't think I could live in gold bars. Thanks for thinking of me!