March 11, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A lifelong Astoria resident has opened a new café and bakery on 31st Street – nearly three years after signing a lease on the premises.
The new establishment, called Elevenses, opened last month at The World Artisan Market, a repurposed warehouse building located at 34-39 31st St. Elevenses is one of three new eateries to have opened in the building following on from Sotta La Luna and Sala.
Elevenses specializes in coffees, teas, homemade pastries and cakes. It places a big emphasis on being environmentally friendly and offering vegetarian items with vegan options.
Georgia Koutsoupakis, 33, who owns the 950 square foot café, said it is her first business venture. Koutsoupakis is Greek American.
Koutsoupakis said she decided to open Elevenses after being fed up with the poor work conditions while employed in the service industry elsewhere. She previously worked for seven years as part of the kitchen staff.
“Months without pay, no breaks, no water or food, toxic working environments, I wanted to open up my own place to be better and do better,” Koutsoupakis said.
Koutsoupakis’ dream was finally realized last month – although she had many setbacks, delays and heartaches along the way.
She signed a lease on the premises in 2019 but the developers of the building were hit by construction interruptions caused, in large part, due to the pandemic.
Once the World Artisan Market was completed, Koutsoupakis said she was waiting for around a year to get approval from the Dept. of Buildings to build out her café space. Once her approval came through, contractors started work on the premises in February 2021 and finished in November.
Koutsoupakis said she is happy to finally open her café, although she wished her father was still alive to see her dream fulfilled. He passed away in May from COVID, she said.
“My only regret is that my father didn’t get to see it,” Koutsoupakis said. “If it had been done quicker, he would have got to see it.”
Koutsoupakis said she is taking a positive outlook on her entrepreneurship and is thrilled to see many regulars already coming through her doors.
“You can’t change what you have no control over. Even though it bled my wallet, I can’t sit back and keep thinking about it,” Koutsoupakis said.
“Life gives you what you need and not what you want.”
Koutsoupakis said the name of the café is derived from The Lord of the Rings, which she is a massive fan of.
Elevenses, Koutsoupakis said, is a mid-morning meal for hobbits, the small-sized fictional race of people in the fantasy novel. There are a number of references to the Lord of The Rings throughout the café, including pictures and a clock labeled with each of the seven daily meals eaten by hobbits.
The café has a high ceiling and the counter area — as well as one side of the wall – is painted in a dark teal color mixed with exposed brick. The rest of the space is painted in bright cream and there are a number of low-hanging Edison lights. There are four high stools and two large sofas inside the premises.
Koutsoupakis said the rest of the café is an open space to allow easy access for wheelchair users.
Tables and chairs will be placed on the sidewalk outside the premises when the weather heats up, she said.
Koutsoupakis said her café offers a range of coffees – both hot and cold – while the beans are sourced from Til Death, a Brooklyn-based roaster.
Food items include croissants, muffins, tarts, loaves of bread, cardamon buns, scones, and brownies – all of which are all made in-house. Many items are made with a Greek twist. There is also a breakfast sandwich made with egg, cheese, cheddar and mushrooms.
Koutsoupakis said the café is still in its formative stage and she plans on rolling out more sandwiches as well as cakes in the near future.
She said café operations are guided by being environmentally conscious and sustainable. For instance, Elevenses places its daily excess food items on an app called Too Good To Go, which puts the items up for sale at a significant discount. The process aims to prevent unused food from being thrown in the trash.
Cups and straws at the café have been made with a zero-carbon footprint, she said, while its toilet paper is made from bamboo.
Koutsoupakis also said she plans on hosting movie nights at the cafe in the near future – with The Lord of The Rings topping the bill.
Opening hours are still being determined, Koutsoupakis said, as she is still adjusting to customer needs. For the moment, Elevenses is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays.
- * A previous version of the story said this is a vegan cafe, it is corrected to say it is vegetarian with vegan options.