The vacant storefront at Third Avenue that was once home to the St. Mark's Bookshop will be turned into the fifth location of home-grown coffee chainlet The Bean. Signage for "The Bean @Cooper Union" has appeared in the windows and EV Grieve confirmed with owner Ike Escava that baristas will be replacing the books come Labor Day.
"We've always liked the old St. Mark's Bookstore spot and it's been empty for years, so when the opportunity presented itself for us to obtain it we were excited to make it happen," Escava told the blog.
The Bean's first location on 1st Avenue, which opened in 2001, was suddenly replaced by a Starbucks in 2011, forcing the coffee shop to relocate down 3rd Street to 2nd Avenue. The shop also opened two additional locations around that time, one across from the Strand on Broadway and another on 1st Avenue and 9th Street. They also have a location on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.
St. Mark's Bookshop, however, has not been as fortunate. After a big push in 2011 to save the bookstore's original location at 31 Third Avenue at Stuyvesant Street things were looking up. In 2014, however, the shop moved out of Third Avenue and reopened at 138 East 3rd Street. That location also struggled to stay afloat, eventually closing forever in 2016.
Some EV Grieve commenters seemed pleased that a local brand, as opposed to a national chain, would be taking over the Third Avenue space, though some did complain that Cooper Union, which owns the building, could have invited a more diverse tenant.
"Nothing against the Bean, but this is a disappointment and not really needed. How many coffee places do we really need? Isn't the Mud nearby? Like, just steps away?" one lamented. "It's a shame Cooper didn't do something more interesting with the space. Those 'art' shows didn't express much of anything for such a storied art, engineering and architecture school with what are purportedly our best and brightest students in the U.S. Where are they? Where is the art?"
Escava plans to at least pay respects to his predecessor. "We do, in fact, plan to have a bookshelf in honor of one of our favorite bookstores ever. The rich literary heritage of the East Village is one that cannot be ignored or renovated away," he told Gothamist. "We will stay true to our East Village roots and incorporate a respectful homage to some of the many writers, beat poets and artists that made the East Village what it is today."