Newsweek: The West and other shops not afraid of the big bad Starbucks in Williamsburg

Newsweek called in for an interview, they along with the WSJ have made this a National News story… meanwhile, the Gaza strip is an ongoing hot mess, to say the very least.  But alas, the quality of our local community is an important topic, and so is the support of small business.

Most of the local coffee shops, including the West, understand that what we offer and what the corporate giant packages are two different products.  Yet, we must admit that Starbucks made coffee a national ‘thing’ on a more refined level, and where local shops come into play is to continue that refining practice that SB struggles with because of their cantankerous size.

Battle of Brews—Newsweek-thewest-press


The WG News—Battle of the Brews The West Coffee Shop’s New Starbucks Neighbor

WG News wrote a great piece about the signaling shift to corporate franchises claiming their stake in New York City’s most loved and hated neighborhood.  Topping the article off with a fitting Mae West quote:

Esther Bell, owner of the Union Avenue cocktails ‘n coffee joint named after Bushwick-born bombshell Mae West, is a dame that knows the ropes, and, according to Mae: “A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”



Gothamist Weighs in on the Battle of the Brews—Williamsburg’s 1st Starbucks The West’s New Neighbor

Gothamist stopped by the to-go window the other day.  

The Gotham heavy weight weighs in on the corporate giants invading our neighborhoods, and their locally businesses.  And no, menu changes have nothing to do with Starbucks, and we’re not phasing out our sandwiches, probably adding new selections.  (and we now have Charcuterie)  We’re happy that the onlinosphere is including us in its coverage of the gluttonous green lady laying down its crab-hands in the hood.  So often in today’s media glut, news junkies just want to know what’s new or what got shuttered.   How about we support stability?

Thank you Gothamist






The West is Ready for Williamsburg’s First Starbucks


For Immediate Release

Starbucks is set to open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn mid-summer, just one block away from a locally owned coffee house, THE WEST, at 379 Union Ave.

To some this seems emblematic of the end of an era, but I believe this chain establishment will only help to highlight the best of what a locally owned business has to offer.

In response to the Starbucks opening, The West’s owner, Esther Bell, says, “We have bathrooms too… no seriously we’ve always been about supporting the community—we have great locally roasted coffee, craft beer, and cocktails. But above all, we partner with artists, web developers and programmers for presentations, fundraisers, screenings, and readings.  Our neighbors come to us because they feel we are an extension of their home, or a comfortable place to work and have a good time.”

A film writer and director who has called Williamsburg home for over twenty years, Esther Bell opened The West in 2010, naming her establishment after Brooklyn-born artist and entertainer, Mae West, who was very progressive for her time. Just as Bell hopes to cultivate a supportive environment for creatives and locals alike, Mae West supported all types of people (women, gay men, African Americans in the late 1920’s) in her very successful theater career as writer/producer/actress in Brooklyn and Manhattan before becoming a witty sex symbol in Hollywood.

This may sound like a classic tale of David Vs. Goliath, but The West’s focus won’t be on competing with Starbucks. As someone who uses The West as a home-away-from-home office almost every day, it is hard to imagine that a new generation of locals would ever find themselves in a generic coffee franchise listening to Starbucks muzak compilations.

When you look around at what small local businesses are offering the community, Starbucks falls short.  At The West I can enjoy cold brew coffee on tap, and, if I feel like a beer later, they have 14 to choose from.  With a full liquor license and great specialty cocktails, the West is the perfect place both to work and to relax with friends in the backyard, which, incidentally, is curated by a local gardener.

In addition to supporting community events, the West has made a point of using local vendors such as Brooklyn Roasting Company, Dona Chai, Two Moon Shortbread, and Dough Donuts. Unlike Starbucks, The West uses non-GMO local farm fresh milk from Battenkill Creamery.

The welcoming of Starbucks by the owner of the luxury rental condo building at Union and Ainslie marks a dramatic shift sweeping through Williamsburg. My concern is that Starbucks is just the beginning of a trend toward more expensive commercial leases, which will ultimately prove detrimental to a lively mix of small local businesses. “All the coffee, cheese, and sandwich shops a block away on Lorimer St., are a great addition to our little small business village away from the Bedford Ave. chain stores,” says Esther Bell.

While Starbucks has landed in Williamsburg, and is here for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that it will ever become as interwoven with the community as a host of locally owned small businesses like the West.

Douglas Turner

The West established in Sept 28, 2010, is a coffee house and full liquor bar, with 14 beers on tap that provides a comfortable spot to eat, work, converse or be entertained.

Contact Esther Bell or Douglas Turner at

GRAMOFON 1st Edition white-black

Gramofon Kickstarter is LIVE: and we hosted their launch party

Ray Crookes, Justin Benjamin, and Keith Gonzales
Ray Crookes, Justin Benjamin, and Keith Gonzales

Last week we happily hosted a party for our friend Keith Gonzales and his crew from FON (the world’s largest WiFi network).  The occasion was the launch of GRAMOFON, a modern cloud jukebox that uses your smartphone as the remote to stream cloud music to your sound system!  Ammazing!! Using WiFi as opposed to blue tooth… guess this is wayyy better streaming.

When Gonzales contacted us about a West takeover,  because he and his compatriots love the place soooo much, of course we said yes! Stay tuned for the official GRAMOFON video, filmed at The West!

The KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN is LIVE, and one of the big reasons you might consider contributing is for the discounted price of $30, a GRAMOFON can be yours! According to multiple tech news desks like Tech Crunch, and GigaOM, we’ve read that this is considered a rare opportunity coming out of a larger tech company, with a healthy revenue.  (By the end of the day, the first few pledge levels have hit their limits, but you can still pledge to get the discount deal.)

GRAMOFON 1st Edition white-black
GRAMOFON 1st Edition white-black

What makes GRAMOFON so special is its WiFi sharing technology (no more spotty short-leashed blue tooth connection) that greatly improves streaming quality.   FON is big in Europe, originating in Madrid, but didn’t take off in the States (Americans are still learning how to share?).  FON  hopes that will all change with the launch of GRAMOFON.

Raymond Crookes

Make your playlist  to rock-out while you clean your room, then go pick up your laundry, and when you return the music will still be going.  This is a pretty cool device.  For now GRAMOFON only supports Spotify, and another web radio service called Wah Wah.  And also the ability to connect through Facebook. More connections are on the way.

Thanks again to Keith Gonzales (also the Founder of Stirplate) for making sure FON hosted a party at the neighborhoodie spot, The West!



Rising Sun Performance finds a home at The West!

Under rehearsed image 1Rising Sun Performance Company (Akia, Founding Artistic Director) announced today that it will present a new short play reading series “UNDER REHEARSED” and have partnered with The West Brooklyn as their venue.

First  Dates: Tuesday March 18th and Tuesday April 15th 8PM

Visit our EVENTS PAGE for more details.

The Reading series is intended to create new artistic relationships with Guest Directors, Playwrights and Actors as well as provide a fun and engaging night for our audiences. The Series will of course also feature the critically acclaimed ensemble of Rising Sun. The Creative Team for each series will be announced a week prior to each series, and will be listed on RSP’s Website, Facebook and via media outlets. The plays will be 10-15 minutes long, and each reading will have a short break in between to allow for conversation, libations and connection between the artists and audience.

The West Brooklyn is the perfect location for this fun and informal monthly gathering and reading, Akia, Rising Sun Performance Company’s Founding Artistic Director, is thrilled to present these short plays in such a wonderful and artistically nurturing environment and for us to bring our work out to Brooklyn audiences.

“Rising Sun Performance Company is a youthful, enthusiastic company and I look forward to

seeing more from them.”

William Coyle, Off Off Online

“It’s worth the price of admission to see the Rising Sun Performance Company’s aspiring talent.”

Jennifer Rathbone, Theater Online

“Ridiculously talented ensemble.”