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Friday
Dec302011

Leaf and Bean to Close January 15th, After 39 Years on Seventh

One of the most charming shops in the neighborhood, Leaf and Bean, will be closing for good next month, after 39 years of selling coffees, teas, and everything to go along with them on Seventh Avenue between Berkeley and Union Streets.

"The lease is up, and we can't afford to pay the higher rent," said Karen Hue, who, along with fellow longtime employee Vikki Cook, took over the shop in 2003 after original owner Alan Mehlberg retired to Connecticut.

The shop opened in 1973, and many of the shelves and fixtures from the liquor store that had been there before remain to this day. Not only was it a place to find over 100 varieties of coffee and tea as well as gourmet items, gifts, mugs, kettles, and coffeepots, Karen and Vikki were warm, friendly presences who made every customer feel like an old friend. After my first visit there I left thinking that they were two of the coolest ladies I'd ever met.

But thankfully the story doesn't end here. "We're looking for a new spot in the neighborhood," Karen reassured me. "It'll be smaller, but it'll be even cuter. We even have a painter who's offered to paint a wall mural for us."

"It's been a great 38 years," she went on. "We made lots of friends, but we'll make lots more in the next location."

Owners Karen Hue and Vikki Cook

Reader Comments (12)

SEe? this si why landlords around here get spoken about the way they do! I know this is a popular store and they have been there for 39 years!! Is the landlord really taking a hardship by continuing to charge them the same rent they have been paying? Or, just with a cost of living increase? no, of course not! They see places like Charles Schwab and Dunkin Donuts and so on coming into the neighborhood and think "I don't give a damn about Park Slope, I just want more and more money, so, I am going to kick these people out". Real nice, whoever is the landlord here should, well, I won't say it..............................

This is the same thing that happened to ChairMan, luckily he was able to reopen on 5th Avenue. Now, what is in the ChairMan location? It's still empty, right? Greeedy landlord, guess the tax write off is worth it!

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterParkSlopePerson

Such a shame as it's such a unique store. :( :( They used to also have a location on Montague Street.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaryAnne

I saw that Liberty Travel rented the old Chairman spot. I also miss Chairman, as I rarely make it to his new location, but pass the old location on my way home.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaryAnne

I agree that they're very nice people and that landlord can be a bunch of scumbags. However, the nature of business has also changed and businesses need to change in order to stay relevant. "Gourmet Coffee" means a very different thing now, and you can get it anywhere from Noella (speaking of changing with the times, which they did) to getting Blue Bottle at the Brooklyn Flea. Cute coffee mugs and housewares are great, but they're not going to get you as far as they used to.

Best of luck to them in their new location.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMick

Liberty Travel eh? Little by little, more chains! But, the Chairman location was empty for quite a while. And, why in the internet age are travel agencies still needed?

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterParkSlopePerson

Mick, they weren't hurting for business, there were always shoppers in there. they are not closing of their choosing.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterParkSlopePerson

I hope our old beloved neighbors ...affectionately called Lee Fenbean or L &B...will find a new home in our neck of the woods.
We share a long history with them, and I will always remember the day after the fire that destroyed the old zuzu's,the entire staff staged a cleaning and wrapping station on the sidewalk. There was a chain of people from inside the sooty,water drenched store passing merchandise and fixtures out to be salvaged and stored..some in their basement.
It was one of those park slope moments taken from the story line of "it's a wonderful life".
L and B ladies....I hope you find a new home.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFonda sara

Unbelievable! I bought my first coffee from Leaf and Bean right after I moved to Park Slope in the mid 80's. Even a move to NJ a dozen years ago did not deter me. I now stop by after work to buy my same blend before heading west, the car awash with the delightful aroma that is never matched by any other.

Best of luck finding a new home. I will see you there.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessG

I have to agree with the above post about this store not changing with the times. I like the idea of it, but with gourmet coffee so mainstream, the store became a little less relevant and did not keep up with the market. I hate to see stores like this go, but it was a little too much of a throwback.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterslopedad

Yes the LL should accept the same rent as.....when? 10 years ago, 20?

I am sure that the LL taxes havent gone up over 100% in that time, or the water or the oil....

And of course I am sure if I walked into the Leaf and Bean and asked them if I could have some beans at their 1999 price, they'd be happy to oblige, I mean I have lived in this neighborhood for 40+ years so of course they'd forgo their profit......

/sarcasm

January 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrklynmind

That's not Karen on the left...Vicki is on the right but the woman on the left is another employee who has been there for years.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkwolfe

This is serious! You've been our rock for most of those 39 years! We wish you the best in finding another location soon. Drop me a line at the usual shipping address or text me please when you are established again.
Nothing can equal your Baja Blend!

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