As the size of the neighborhood’s Middle Eastern population has increased, so have the Middle Eastern food options. Going beyond its classic Polish-American offerings, the Broadway Market has opened its commercial kitchen to include pop-ups offering everything from Filipino to Jamaican food.
The recently opened Three Stories Coffee Company is yet another feather in the neighborhood’s foodie cap, and it fills a key void in the area’s coffee options. Until very recently, the only places to get coffee were at fast food restaurants, corner restaurants and corner stores. Three Stories not only brings another coffee option, it brings good coffee.
“We wanted to have a coffee shop concept that resembled what you see out in suburban communities like Williamsville or Cheektowaga and put that on the East Side,” says Herm Cooks, the café’s general manager. “This is something that the neighborhood has been desperately looking for. With us providing a coffee shop and a café for people in the neighborhood, they’ve extended their arms to us.”
The café is not-for-profit and an extension of 716 Ministries, a faith-based community development organization. A big part of the ministry’s mission has been supporting employment and job development in sectors like construction and retail. With the new Three Stories café, the organization is taking its first step into culinary employment.
“We sell coffee to employ people,” Cooks says. “We don’t sell coffee to make money. We also wanted to make sure that we employed people from the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. When people can get a job in their neighborhood, it helps with variables like getting transportation and babysitting.”
On our recent visit, we found the café felt like a natural extension of The Broadway Market. The full coffee menu included drip coffee, pour overs, and espresso drinks — all made with house-roasted Direct Trade coffee. Other beverage options include hot chocolate, hot teas, and smoothies. The café also has full breakfast and lunch options, including breakfast wraps, panini sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries.
Sitting in the café, it’s easy to imagine Three Stories as part of a bigger revitalization. In March 2019, New York State announced its $50 million East Side development fund that is designed to spark economic development in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood and the surrounding East Side.
“In addition to being historically disadvantaged and segregated, the East Side is such a melting pot of cultures,” says Zack Lopez, head roaster at Three Stories. “People come here and want to work, and they don’t always get the opportunities that they deserve.”
“We really want to bring more dollars down to this area,” Cooks adds. “We want to employ down here and partner with local vendors. We’re on our way toward that. It’s been a little challenging. But with any challenge, we look at it as an opportunity, not just a challenge.”
“We want to see justice,” Lopez says. “We want to see people get what they deserve.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
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