When a guest walks into El Condor on Greenwich Avenue in the heart of the West Village, one is struck by the many raised seats along the edge with Wi-Fi that resemble a hotel lobby, then the comfy chairs in the back which make it look like a living room, and the menu, which is fitting for an upscale cafe. Then in the evening, it offers a drinks menu made up of beers and wines.
El Condor is the latest take on an upscale cafe that functions as an office space, with food and drink options and a rather sophisticated menu. It is owned by Wilcuma, a hospitality company, owned by Nicolas Simon, who has worked at Four Seasons hotels and was managing partner at several of chef Alain Ducasse’s high-end restaurants in New York (he’s originally from Toulouse, France ) and Mucjon Demiraj, who comes from a real estate background.
They’re watching this Manhattan location as a pilot, with more to come. Owner Simon says the concept is flexible and could work as a stand-alone cafe, a counter in hotel lobbies, kiosks in arenas or museums.
In fact, Simon says he has plans for a second New York outpost that will open in a museum, but won’t disclose where. Additionally, they are in negotiations for an outlet in Nashville in the fall and are about to sign a lease in Houston for a 2023 opening.
To capitalize on their initial efforts, the duo raised $300,000 via crowdfunding, with a total of 128 investors. And the Nashville location will be funded primarily by a developer who wants to bring the amenities of an upscale cafe to its development.
Simon described the El Condor concept as an “all-day cafe, a place where everyone should feel comfortable entering, either for their first coffee in the morning, or to come to work later, or for a quick lunch, and at the end of the day for a glass of wine when it’s time to relax.”
The entire space in the West Village is 532 square feet, Simon said accurately, and he uses every foot of space, including roasting his coffee in the downstairs area, with cooking facilities upstairs. back.
He named it El Condor because it suggests South America, where much of the coffee comes from, and also his father was a big fan of Simon & Garfunkel, who loved their version of the Peruvian song El Condor Not.
Why did he want to switch from fine dining restaurants to a mid-priced cafe? What stood out most about the premium experience was “the attention to detail. For me, luxury is more about convenience and making sure the customer has the right experience.
Asked how El Condor can compete with Manhattan’s slew of Starbucks and independents La Colombe, Gregory’s Coffee and Joe’s Coffee (to name a few), Simon replied, “The real competition is with us. ourselves and trying to do our best as a team.” He adds that “we are in the service business while everyone above has forgotten about this component”, although no doubt his rivals would dispute that point.
Simon says the service in his cafe is more “restaurant-like. We leave your tab open and check that you are well.
Although El Condor only accommodates 18 people, at midday there are often three staff servicing them, and usually two at earlier and later times. One staff member is anchored behind the coffee machine, serving guests, and another handles take-out orders, app orders, pickup, and delivery.
When asked if he had WeWork in mind in the design of El Condor, Simon replied: “People don’t go to the office as much anymore, so it’s nice to provide a welcoming workspace and attractive that sits outside their home and offers delicious coffee and dining options.
Simon doesn’t care if anyone sits with a cup of coffee for an extended period of time, but coffee isn’t cheap. It costs $4 a cup, rather expensive even for New York. But Simon said the price includes sales tax and tip because he doesn’t have a tip jar. He also noted that employees receive a certain percentage of revenue sharing to increase their hourly wages.
Much of the coffee served is a blend of beans, such as from Brazil and Sumatra, which is balanced and more subdued than a traditional espresso blend.
And the premium menu isn’t cheap either. Most all-day breakfast items, including homemade muesli and chickpea sandwiches, are $16, and a bowl of black rice, eggplant and avocado $18, with most pastries costing $6 each.
But Simon says his prices are a bit higher than salad chains like Sweetgreen’s, where service is minimal. “I don’t think it’s expensive. Where can you have lunch in this neighborhood or in New York where you spend less than $25 or $30 for any food option? It’s almost impossible.
Its chef Youssef Aderdour is Australian who, according to Simon, brings a variety of influences including “Italian, Greek, Asian, an interesting melting pot. This is the theme we want to bring: delicious, fresh, pretty on the plate and seasonal food.
His beer and wine license has just been approved and he starts serving alcohol at noon. Simon said he primarily serves local craft beers such as Gun Hill (the Bronx), Single Cut (Queens) and Grimme (Brooklyn) and white, red and rosé wines from the Finger Lakes, Long Island and Valley. of the Hudson.
But it doesn’t serve hard liquor and “we’re not a cocktail bar,” Simon pointed out. One exception: it serves an EC Spritz with vermouth, cider and fresh grapefruit. It closes at 9pm, so he considers it a “pre-dinner type place”.
He will also have multiple sources of income as he develops a cold brew with a co-packing business that will be sold in local grocery stores, in the near future.
Customer response on Yelp has been overwhelmingly positive. Mandy said “the presentation of the food was elegantly served with elegant plates and the staff were efficient and friendly. And the owner Nicolas worked on site with passion. Kathryn noted that “the coffee is roasted on site, the pastries are delicious with unique twists, and my friend and I were able to hang in the corner and have some real catch up.”
Simon called the three keys to her future success as: 1) Consistency in what she does, including product and hospitality quality, 2) Maintaining her business and financial model, including taking care of her employees , 3) To make El Condor a lifestyle brand covering coffee experience, gear, apparel, coffee with ice cream, etc.