Owner of several much-loved NYC coffee shops, Ike Escava started out in retail taking over the family business from his father.
The kid’s clothing store in downtown Manhattan eventually wound down due to changes in the industry and in February 2003 Ike opened his first coffee store in Manhattan’s East Village. He now co-owns four coffee shops across New York City.
On Sourcing Inventory:
Always, always, always stock the best possible product. I stock croissants from one supplier, cookies from another and bagels from another again. I could get all these products from the same place but I’d rather deal with the additional operational effort than end up with second-rate goods on sale.
On Keeping the Books:
I meet with every month with my accountant. If my costs of goods percentage is changing, I find out about it quickly. If my employee costs are getting out of control, I can take action.Assessing these things every six months just isn’t enough.
I’ve opened two locations over the years that didn’t work out. I got kicked out of my original location by a landlord who got offered more money by Starbucks. I started out working on my own and now I work with a partner. You have to be resilient and open to change.
Choose Locations Carefully:
Over the years, I’ve been tempted to open up in midtown, downtown, and lots of different potential store locations. In the end, I’ve always stayed in the East Village. I think stores should be a real reflection of the neighborhood they are in and to do that you need to really get the local vibe. That’s how independent local business can take on the Starbucks of this world.