B4 It Was Cool to Open Espresso Bar

Posted on: February 17th, 2011 at 6:39 am by

At the end of December, quirky antique joint B4 It Was Cool quietly moved its entire operation to the cellar of 89 East Houston.  Ergo, shopping here is now even more of a trip.  Descending the stairs is like stepping into a prohibition-era vault complete with vintage light fixtures, fans, taxidermy, old medical charts, and other sundries.  And the subterranean space is much larger, allowing owner Gadi Gilan to spread his wares across numerous rooms.

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But the decision to move fully underground after more than two decades was actually prompted by loftier ambitions. Indeed, Gilan plans to convert the existing storefront space into an early-American themed coffee/espresso bar. There won’t be any table or seating area.  Just coffee on the go.  Very quick, very European. The as-yet-unnamed establishment will roast their own beans and reportedly serve pastries from the Doughnut Plant on Grand Street.  Opening is tentatively scheduled for early spring.

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Gilan opened B4 It Was Cool in 1987, a time when the neighborhood was seedy and nobody cared about the graffiti wall. The focus has always been on vintage early American industrial objects. Much of their clientele is bar and restaurant owners.  We’ve even spotted Susan Sarandon browsing the inventory.  Anyway, here’s a description from the website:

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B4 It Was Cool is both a store and a collection of American industrial objects spanning from the beginning to mid 20th century.

While our primary focus is lighting, our goal is to capture the feel and the aesthetic of the age – a time when mankind’s faith in Science and Industry was at its peak.

A time when the Engineer, the Machinist and the Stylist were often the same man, and the end product reflected the fact.

And we stumbled upon the following film about Gilan, put together by Kirsti Itameri:

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