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Monday, March 08, 2010

When Your Name is Mud

As much as I dislike chasing the latest trends or frequenting the latest scenes, I also don't want to be the last on the block to know about a place that is genuinely a great find. All of my friends had recently discussed the coffee and ambiance of Mud, and on a recent visit to Doma, I overheard someone tell his companion that Mud in the East Village was also a cool place, inhabited by writers. So it was on the must visit list.

And so I was quite pleased that on a friend's birthday celebration on Saturday night, a decision was made at dinner to go somewhere else for dessert. This is a common phenomenon in New York City, because a specialist in desserts and (and coffee) is usually just around a corner or a short stroll away, particularly in downtown Manhattan. This dessert somewhere else, akin to bar hopping or a pub crawl, is motivated by any number of reasons - change of scenery, better desserts or better value.

At Mud, the desserts are quite pricey, so I would not encourage value shoppers to seek this place out. However, being in the cafe business is tough these days. It is not only competitive, but with the rain (or reign of laptops), these places have become second living rooms. Some customers may buy one drink and spend the afternoon. At this point in time, in small cafés like this, pricing reflects more a space rental fee than the value of food or beverage.

But the ambiance is tres cool, there is a garden in the back (glass topped in winter), the desserts are excellent, and the coffee - well, Mud gets raves, but I leave you to decide. I am not a coffee drinker, and even at that, coffee must be up at the top of the list of most contentious topics in New York City, along with pizza and Japanese restaurants.

Mud was launched as Mudtruck in 2001 by husband and wife Nina Kay Berott and Greg Northrop. Mudtruck was immediately compared to the green giant of coffee - Starbucks. The pricing from the Mudtruck was significantly less than the Starbucks surrounding it. Add a quality brew, and the place quickly became a regular stop for many.

The orange vehicle, a converted Con Ed truck, can be found at Astor Place (and now a second location on Greenwich Avenue). At the Café, they sell their own custom blend of coffee beans, along with mugs and Mud branded apparel. There's a mini industry here with the Mudspot, Mudtruck, Mudshop, Mudmusic. It gives a new meaning to your name is Mud :)

Photo Note: Orange is a dominant color theme at Mud. Appropriately, our birthday boy also loves orange - that's his T-shirt in the upper right corner of the lower photo :)


Leslie said...

Sounds yummy-can't wait to go. Thanks for the tip. Tempting menu:

An Honest Man said...

Quite a few places over here now give time-limited access to the internet and block access to external connections just to prevent the 1 coffee = 4 hour customers.

I really don't blame them - the hoggers are being selfish and could easily put the place out-of-business if it can't get the turnover.

Brian Dubé said...

An Honest Man - You are right. We are seeing the same thing in NYC now in some places - various restrictions at various times, such as no laptops during certain hours or no use of power outlets a certain times etc.

Mirela said...

Sounds and looks yummy. I'm always up for trying out new coffee places, being a complete coffee addict.

Anonymous said...

A great new dessert/coffee shop recently opened in our neighborhood.
Small business owner trying to make a living.
He limited the time on the internet based on your purchase: 2 hours for a coffee, 4 hours with a dessert.
It caused quite a ruckus. Lots of, "how dare he!"
Don't quite understand the sense of entitlement.

Alycia in Sydney said...

I am writing this one down for my next trip to New York, looks great.
Although by the sound of it I should leave my laptop at home!!

Anonymous said...

Aw, I love and miss Mud! I lived on that block before I left NYC in 2005 and really enjoyed that place. Might be living back in NYC again this summer and this is definitely a place I'll be visiting again.