Customers run the coffee shop

By Serena Otgonbayar

The owner of Buunni Coffee decided to take all her staff to the beach for one day, to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the business. They manage to do so without closing the store.

“Sarina said to me, I’d love to take all of our staff to the beach together. But we can’t close, cause we are a small business, and we will loss money. So I said why don’t WE do it, why don’t the customers do it. If I would love to do it, maybe others would, too.” said Melody Morrow, a loyal customer since day one, and a resident in the neighborhood for nine years.   

“She put her ads on Google and she has to close down the list, cause she got so many people (responding for the working hours).”

In the end, twelve volunteers were selected to fill in the spots. Each got a chance to work for one or two hours. There are college graduate, stay-home mom, stage actor, and even pharmacist.



Stage actor Paul de Beoy seemed quite enjoying his role behind the counter, “The reason I’m here is because I love this coffee shop. I live in the neighborhood and I’ve been a customer for a long time. Today I’m here from 4 to 6 p.m., just to help out, make coffee, and take some money. And the customers are great. It’s been fun. It’s been great to give back to the community.”

The Cafe Buunni is featured with organic Ethiopian coffee. Though the size of a corner deli, the store is decorated with artworks and handicrafts from local and international artists. Hence, a gallery of a kind.

The owner of Buunni is a couple. Sarina is originally from Nepal, and Elios from Ethiopia. So they sometimes sponsor events with Nepalese or Senegalese meals.   

Melody Morrow, “You know what it’s like in your local neighbor. You can’t fool people. If things aren’t good, they are not gonna come back. So here they’ve had people come back and back and back…It’s pretty awesome to be a part of that. ”

A real sense of community, that’s why people in Hudson Heights regard their neighborhood as a hidden jewel of New York City.