By: Rhonda Azar
If six months ago you were to ask NYU sophomore James Tebele about coffee beans and the restaurant industry, he would know little to nothing. Ask him now, and he’ll give you an earful, as the 19-year-old is now the owner and founder of Goldbrew NYC, a local New York City coffee shop, which prides itself on quality coffee and a luxurious customer experience. The retail company began in the kitchen of Tebele’s summer home in Deal, New Jersey, and soon expanded into a shop located on Norwood Ave, in the heart of spectacular summer enclave. It was the place to grab an iced coffee and have a good time, according to a handful of his customers.
Just two weeks ago, Goldbrew NYC celebrated the grand opening of their new location at 11 Bond Street in the SoHo district of Manhattan. This is most definitely something Tebele never would have dreamed of. Thanks to an incredibly positive mindset, delicious tasting coffee, and the tons of moral support for small businesses during these unprecedented times, Goldbrew NYC is now firmly planted on the road to success. After sitting home on coronavirus lockdown “duty” for months, not to mention a cancelled summer internship at a prominent tech firm, Tebele was yearning for a start-up, something creative and profitable that would satisfy a wide summer audience. “What better than a nice cold iced coffee on a hot day,” Tebele explains.
With help from a cousin familiar with the coffee business and its housekeeping, Tebele soon got started brewing, and after many trial and error runs, he perfected the recipe. At the beginning of July, Tebele first started selling bottles of cold brew online through Instagram direct messages, but felt that the company had the potential for a successful storefront.
Tebele met with a real estate agent and visited a few potential sites, until one of them hit the jackpot, quite literally. The rent for the space, which served as a nail salon before COVID struck, was perfectly reasonable for a young man like himself. “The space was quite big at first sight,” explains the 19-year-old, “but we had some amazing ideas on how to design it”.
Fast forward three weeks later, and the store was open and popping. Aligned with the brand’s name, the store walls were painted a bright gold, with unique and young pieces of artwork hanging all around. Beside the barista station, was a ping-pong table and a few socially distanced tables.
“I would not be where I am today without COVID-19,” says Tebele.
Thanks to coronavirus, he was able to acquire the perfect location for his summer store, and tons of people were more than happy to help support a young entrepreneur like himself during these tough times. Not to mention, if coronavirus had currently not existed, Tebele would not be here today, running the show at Goldbrew NYC’s new Bond St. location. He would be on campus at New York University, focusing heavily on school work, not on his coffee business.
Working in the retail industry has given Tebele quite an education, which he passes on to me. Learning how to properly run a store, knowing how to choose the right employees, and creating a brand that is appealing to the eyes, and in his case to the tongue, is an experience he wouldn’t trade for the world.
Skillfully coordinating his social media, specifically his Instagram, @GoldbrewNYC, is just one of the multiple keys to his success. For that he has Lydia Haddad to thank, founder of Lydia’s Media, an upscale social media managing agency. Haddad is responsible for all things related to public relations. For starters, she filters Goldbrew NYC’s content and helps with their branding and all advertising related matters
“Working with Tebele is my pleasure” explains Haddad, “we work together as a team to promote the brand in the best way possible”. As for the coffee, it is unbeatable, just like their slogan reads, “Liquid gold, drink it cold”.
Not only does Tebele serve hot and iced coffee, his menu goes from matcha to croissants, to mozzarella sandwiches. One of Tebele’s regulars, David Dweck had the pleasure of telling me all about Goldbrew NYC, from the perspective of a coffee drinker and a customer. “One of the best iced coffees in the city,” says Dweck, “I can’t wait to see what’s in store for James and the whole team”. And as for the future, Tebele is brimming with a palpable optimism. He keenly observes: “I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know it’ll be good. Goldbrew NYC has just taken off, and from the way it’s looking now, it’s only up from here!”
Rhonda Azar is a regular contributor in the Jewish Voice “Young Journalists Initiative”