A Tea Lounge in Brooklyn Heights!

glassrightThe hip café and music venue Tea Lounge could come to Brooklyn Heights later this year, pending building permit and liquor license approval, its owner told the Brooklyn Heights Blog today.

Jonathan Spiel, who also owns Tea Lounge cafés in Park Slope and Cobble Hill, has his eye on a 4,000-square-foot hotspot at in the St. George Tower building, and hopes to bring in his concoction of a daytime café-turned-full bar and music venue at night to the neighborhood.

The Brooklyn Heights location is at 111 Hicks Street at the corner of Clark Street (in the old Palmira’s spot), and would be similar in size and event listings to the Park Slope one at 837 Union Street, but the space is divided into three rooms and can host private parties and multiple events simultaneously, Spiel explained.

The setting will also be kid-friendly, with blackboard paint on the walls and afterschool events featuring cartoons and milk and cookies, he added. There would be live music at night and a full bar for adults. And, of course, the spot will offer its famous free WiFi and big comfy couches for the area’s writers and readers.

Spiel said he is still trying to gauge neighborhood interest in a place like the Tea Lounge — so, what do you think? Would you want to see the Tea Lounge move into Brooklyn Heights?

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  • Bee Heights

    Hey J: Don’t do it…plain and simple. Forget about what people WANT…this neighborhood does not support local places that well. Add in the recession, soon to be depression and you’ll be packing your bags in 24 months with a deep hole in your pocket. Your concept is sound, it’s just the space. It’s awful. I have lived in Brooklyn Heights for over 7 years and NOTHING survives that terrible space. I wish you the best but just don’t make risky business decisions in this economy. The disposable income is drying up by the day. Sorry to sound like a spoilsport!

  • http://www.tealoungeNY.com jonathan

    the place will have something for everyone. from free wi-fi to chairs that are good for backs to separate areas for kids to play around. remember this is a community lounge. it’s for all of you guys posting out there. thanks again for the feedback. i’d love to hear more.

  • Teddy

    College students & stroller moms usually don’t mix well. One group will irritate the other. If you can keep those groups effectively separate from each other with a wall, then you’re in business. However, I don’t believe that location is good for the long-term. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m raining on your parade, but I grew up here & know how fickle Heights residents are when it comes to supporting local businesses.

    Good luck.

  • Val

    I would love it!

  • Chester

    Jesse, Bee: STFU.

  • PJL

    North Heights could really use some nightlife. Bar and Live Music would be welcome (and people shouldn’t start the NIMBY nonsense, as that space has had a liquor license for as long as I can remember).

  • Melissa

    When there’s a business worth supporting (quality food & service), people support it. Don’t expect customers to patronize a business with crap products and nasty staff. That was the case with a lot of failed establishments here.

  • Andrew

    An open mic night would also be pretty cool…

  • Monty

    I can’t believe people are trying to tell a guy who is opening the third location for a very successful business what to do. I’m sure he knows better already. My only advice is don’t double dip credit cards and defraud your investors (see Chef, Busy). I, for one, wish him the best and sincerely hope the business is a success. I will bring my stroller on day 1 and try not to bother the college kids :)

  • lovebug

    I think this is a great idea! I would totally go to hear live music at night, watch movies, eat dessert, whatever the activity! This neighborhood is sorely lacking in nighttime places, besides the Ale House and that pub on Montague. I’d love a place that wasn’t solely a bar, but more of a cultural haven.

  • lynette

    please come!

  • my2cents

    Sweet! I am all for it, and i like a lot of peoples’ suggestions! Not a huge fan of the whole “children” thing, but hey I think it’ll be just fine for everyone. I must say that if you made it friendly to the college students down the block to study there you’d probably do very good business. But I think there is also a need for an adult “hang out” in the North heights as well. My biggest piece of advice is in decor: please make it fun and inviting, but kind of cool…basically do the opposite of what those busy chef people did! I strongly suggest a visit to the Roebling tea room in Williamsburg. The service is mediocre there but the vibe is really comfortable, cozy, but hip without being sceney or pretentious. That place is always packed. I also love the decor at Floyd, as far as creating a real atmosphere.

  • Yes Please!

    Brooklyn Heights NEEDS this – there is NOWHERE to go late-night, for food or a beer (unless you count Floyd), and nowhere that plays decent music and welcomes a younger crowd (and by younger, I’m talking 20s – 30s). And IMHO, there is no delicious coffee and tea in the neighborhood. Starbucks does not count, at all. Bring it, Jonathan! =)

  • Senor Salsa


    I live on the block and you have my full support. It almost seems too good to be true.
    But please DON’T come if you are planning on just laundering some money and closing up abruptly. It would break our hearts.
    DON’T come unless you have a firm plan to resist an infestation by wannabe gangster college kids with their Coors-lite fights and high-pitched squealing.
    PLEASE come if you can truly offer a hangout for intellectually curious people (of all ages) who like live music, microbrews, GOOD coffee and inspired conversation.
    PLEASE come if you can offer delicous, wholesome food (that isn’t stale).
    PLEASE come if your employees are warm, friendly and do not display a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. This last point is paramount if you want my business. Good luck and welcome in advance.

  • Publius

    That location has been the kiss of death for businesses as long as I’ve been in the Heights (since ’88). Though that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be successful if the rent was lower than low.

    I believe the landlord is the St. George co-op. My advice would be to negotiate the lowest rent possible, then walk away and come back in 1-2 months and get a further 25% reduction.

    In reality they will never rent that space anytime soon. I believe a bank was looking at it a year or two ago, but we all know what’s happening to banks.

    So, you’re in the driver’s seat. I’m sure the co-op board wants to stop their loss from that space being empty. I bet if you just covered their costs, they’d rather stop the $$$ bleeding that must be made up by the co-op owners.

    Good luck with it. But don’t end up working for the landlord.

  • Adam

    Finally my girlfriend and I will have somewhere to go on the weekends. Don’t forget there are hundreds of law students in Brooklyn Heights that do actually go out (believe it or not) and would love a laid back place to go to.

  • Peter


    A variety of responses:

    1. I’m 90% sure this is the most comments any entry on the BHB has *EVER* received. Homer? Verification?

    2. There is a VERY strong need for a place like this. I’m late 30’s work for myself from home (one of those annoying laptop people — no cell phone use though) and would definitely be there a minimum of 3 times a month. If it I fell in with a crowd there or I fell into a routine I could be there 15x a month.

    3. The only competition is Tazza — they’re great — a real testament to the need for this, but they don’t accommodate the kids well or the lingering.

    4. That location has been the kiss of death — there are a few more nearby potential patrons now (dorms, witness building conversions) but come up with *something* to make the space feel connected to the street — right now it’s just too easy to breeze by and not have a clue that there’s life inside.

    5. Having eaten at Palmira’s just once — the night they opened, I recall the space as being cavernous. I’d look for a way to make it a little cozier — not just your signature sofas and chairs, but somehow lower the ceiling in spaces — maybe draped cloth?

    All in all, with the combo of parents/kids, college kids, 30-somethings with nowhere to go for a drink… I think you have a real shot — just the world’s lowest rent. Tehy’ve got to be flexible — it’s been empty most of the decade.

    Peter Steinberg
    Recommending books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime. ;)

  • peppermint

    i think that our neighborhood could really use a place like this. i was a big fan of the park slope location when i lived there. i am a little hesitant about the space however. i’ve lived on henry and clark for 6 years and i agree with the other commenter who said that it’s hard to tell what’s going on in that place. it’s a strange space. both in location and layout. jonathan, if you do decide to go ahead with the new lounge i wish you the best of luck and will come often. what’s going on with the St. George space on the corner of pineapple and henry? that seems like a better location and it’s been vacant in my six years here. just throwing it out there.

  • hickster

    Hi Jonathan, I live on that corner. While I love the idea, I just want to make sure this venue will be soundproofed.

  • Sarah on Pineapple

    Yes! I like what you’re saying about a community gathering place. Business that get involved are much appreciated and I can see myself relaxing with some tea on one of your comfy seats. I don’t go see live music much, but if there were jazz i would come.

  • BB

    I have always wondered how WiFi java places survive when their space is taken up by laptop users who sit with the same stale cup of java for 2 to 3 hours. Sometimes they don’t even “buy” — they just log in, kick off the shoes and treat the space like a second living room. It baffles me.

    Starbucks is the exception. They bring in cash because they are usually located on the beaten path and is generally a “take-out”. But how do ma and pop WiFi java huts survive when seating is limited?

  • Emily

    YES!! Please!! I spend about 4 days a week at the Tea Lounge in Cobble Hill, and if one moved into Brooklyn Heights, I would spend pretty much every waking minute between the two. I’m a student, and there are no good places to study in the Heights–in fact, the Tea Lounge in C.H. is the only place even relatively close. Several qualities make the C.H. location great–good food, good musical selection at the right volume, I can always find a seat, usually next to an outlet. It’s a nice mix of families and people working–and there are lots of students in the St. George, so I think there would be a good population to draw from–and again, there are no nice “lounge” places in the neighborhood–this would be a HUGE boon.

  • ABC

    I think the recipe you guys have going elsewhere would be a big hit in this location. You can’t listen to some guys here — they’re anti-kids, anti-old white rich people, anti-moms, anti-college kids, and anti-courthouse employees. Kind of makes you wonder why they live in the Heights!?

  • Bee Heights

    It’s your money J so do what you want but seriously think about the space…..awful is an understatement. If all these people on this board are so behind you, sell shares in the business to the locals. Then you’ll see how many “supporters” you really have….all you will hear is crickets. If you do pull it off I will be the first to admit I was wrong and you had the guts when all I did was see the negative. In this economy and the fact that BH residents are so damn finicky we shall see. Good luck my friend you got guts opening anything these days!

  • Jazz

    Bee – with a name like that I’d assume you’d be all sunshine and flowers.

    Jonathan: why not the busy chef/oven on Henry? I agree with the other assessment of the St. George space as well. However, since you’re a known entity and I’m sure this blog will help promote a BH Tea Lounge anywhere you open will be a success.

  • lcd

    do it! live jazz! i’ll be there.

  • HDEB

    Sounds great! In-house childcare would be a draw for parents. Sort of like the in-house Ikea childcare in a more fun location.
    Hope you do come to the hood.

  • DB

    I think the thing that is going to set you apart and help you succeed is that you’ll have basically two sets of clientele. Daytime folks (parents, kids, students, professionals) that come for tea, coffee, snacks and wifi. Nighttime folks (college kids, and adults) that come for drinks, food, dessert and music. I fall into the later crowd, so while I am one that is a bit scared of “kid-friendly” spots, I assume they will not be playing in the middle of the jazz sets.

    Don’t be too disheartened by the nay-sayers. I’ve lived here ten years and can’t remember a business like yours launchingin the nabe. Why did so many others fail in this space and other surrounding spaces? Don’t blame the residents. Blame poor (sometimes fraudulent) service, mediocre food and a complete lack of imagination. The location has it’s challenges, but if you offer something different, exciting and welcoming, I think you will succeed.

    Best of luck.

  • BHer

    I’m with you ABC. I too am baffled by the anti-child backlash. I can’t imagine living here without kids. We moved here BECAUSE of the child-centered nature of the neighborhood.

    If these guys get it right, this could be amazing. Palmira’s failed because it was terrible – food, service, ambiance etc. We tried it many times and it never got better.

    My kids are older now, but I would have loved to have had a great place to hang out. I also love a night out with friends or a place to have a drink with my husband before we head out to dinner. There is no good place to go, so we go to Smith Street or Manhattan.

    How about Sunday brunch with family movies? Great food is the key to the success. It doesn’t need to be complicated either. Small plates would be great. Keep it simple, but high quality. Give us a reason to stay in the nabe instead of going into Manhattan or Smith St.

  • http://www.tealoungeny.com jonathan

    to all the moms out there, what about the fact that there are stairs to get into the space? To build a ramp is nearly impossible, does it really matter? I’d love your feedback.