Friday, May 25, 2012

Introducing TasteBuds

Kevin Philip has done it again. In the time that it takes most business owners to get one single license approved by a city agency, he's converted About Time Boutique into a beautifully-appointed new sandwich shop, TasteBuds, which will start training staff next week in preparation for a soft opening on June 15. ILFA snuck in today as Kevin was working to hear about all the ways in which this sandwich shop will stand out.

The Food: Why else would you go in, right? Classic sandwiches and some new twists, hot and cold, made with fresh local ingredients (including bread from a beloved NYC bakery) and some choice imported meats and cheeses. This is not your basic deli - this is a serious sandwich shop. There'll be some tasty items around the edges, too, for those who don't always want their meal between two slices of bread, including some award-winning chili. ILFA plans to eat my way through the menu one sandwich at a time - here's hoping they have some of those "buy 9 and get the 10th free" cards.

The Look: Someone who's built out big-budget bars as an electrician and designed t-shirts for years knows how to make a place beautiful. There are more photos below, but touches include a great mural on one wall, homemade tables, cozy soft lighting up front for summer evenings, and an original Redbird subway strap (pun intended). Oh, and did we mention the sign?

The Sign (and what it stands for): Nearly 15 years ago, when Kevin was first getting started in the screen printing business, he found an experienced local signmaker who was willing to sell him some basic equipment to get off the ground. Every time Kevin's needed a sign for a business since, he's gone to the same guy, but a decade and a half later, it was the signmaker's son, now in the family business, who made the stencil for the TasteBuds sign (from Kevin's own design). A little local reciprocity to keep business close to home: that's how Kevin and Garnett (the Franklin Avenue Merchants founder) do things, whether they're hiring locally or putting on the Kids Day. Shop local - see you at TasteBuds.

You knew they'd have great-looking t-shirts.

Even the iPad-register-dock is homemade.



  1. Maybe I'm just not scratching my head hard enough, but what is that last picture?

    1. its a mirror attached to a train strap (we used to hold this instead of a bar in the train)

  2. Food service is a difficult, competitive business. Profit margins are often low, so labor costs must be tightly controlled. Health insurance, vacation days and sick time will only be possible if all establishments are forced to offer them.

    I wonder if the sandwiches will be priced high enough that he won't need a tip jar to supplement wages.

    I bet some of the neighborhood newbies could afford $12 for lunch everyday.

  3. All true. It helps to have diversified interests, a long-term lease signed a little before the recent takeoff, and the skills and capital to do the build-out yourself. For the employees, it certainly helps to know your boss, his family and many of the people you're serving. None of this makes food service glamorous, easy, or highly remunerative - that would require binding legislation, as you note - but it does improve it somewhat.

  4. I hope these factors enable him to attract and retain quality staff members.

    I also doubt customers will pay $12 for lunch if it is prepared and served by the variety of employees that have to work for minimum wage.

    In this economy, only the best qualified members of the applicant pool will get the "good" entry level jobs. Sorting through the applicants, training them, and supervising them is
    lots of work. The trick is to invest in those we feel will be best for business, while simultaneously satisfying our urge to change the world.

  5. I will never go to TasteBuds. Not after all that I have learned from MikeF here today. Thank God for him. The world is a better place because of him.

  6. I plan on going to Tastebuds all of the time.

  7. The place looks great already. Thanks Kevin for everything you have done and are doing to make Franklin Avenue fantastic.

  8. Although I rarely use their services, I think the award for the most influential business on the avenue should go to MySpace.

  9. MikeF, what is your problem? A new sandwich shop is opening up on Franklin--this is a good because it creates jobs and gives the neighborhood a new business. You sound like a real jerk and I hope we're never at Tastebuds at the same time because you certainly put a bad taste in my mouth. I bet you're the kind of person who blames Franklin Park for the "downfall" of Crown Heights--get over yourself!

  10. Downfall of Crown Heights? It is changing, that's all. I love some of the changes, and don't really like others but I'm pretty zen about it all.

    I just hope those who can tip, do tip, and am glad that we can now shop and eat locally as a result of all of the investment.

  11. MySPACE... LOLOL! Please. They mislead Brooklyn (and NYC newbies for that matter) into believing that certain neighborhoods are really better ones... aka, Bed-Stuy is "Clinton Hill", Bushwick is "East Williamsburg", and my favorite, New York Avenue/Nostrand is "Park Slope/Prospect Heights" GIVE ME A BREAK. Will never use them, even if I find a beautiful apartment. Anyone who is willing to bend the truth right off the bat clearly has no integrity in any aspect of their business.

    Give me a break.

  12. I have to agree about MikeF. Enough with the macroeconomics lecture every time a new restaurant opens.

  13. 5:42-
    Yes, this is among the qualities that makes MySpace influential.

    I like to think about which types of businesses have better profit margins than others, and predict which types of housing and services will be built.

    As the neighborhood changes, existing businesses must adapt in order to stay in business. Too often they lack the skill set and needed capital. It is refreshing to see that this proprietor seems to have the skills to change with the neighborhood, and -although I'd hate to work in food service- I'd rather have a job making sandwiches at a small shop than at McDonald's. I'd certainly rather have that job than none at all.

  14. I'm with MikeF. I plan on going to Tastebuds often once it opens, and hope the sandwiches are priced high enough that the employees can get paid ok wages, and Kevin can make an ok profit.

    You guys know that a business like MySpace can be influential without people liking them, right?

  15. 8:40-
    I hope they are as good as City Sub (located on Bergen St in the Slope), or Syd's (located on Nostrand).

    Their subs are totally worth the walk and the $12 it costs for a sandwich and a soda.

  16. $12 might be a little more that I can afford on a daily basis, but I couldn't afford to eat a huge sandwich everyday without getting fat. all works out.

    So, Zen is the right word. A chubby Zen Budda is what I would look like if I spent $12 everyday for lunch. I would also be insane -unzen- if thought the customers didn't drive the real estate market. Places like MySpace are influential just by giving people what they want: Apartments in areas they believe are are hip.

    People love to demonize realtors and developers, but they perform a legal service to young people who are new to NYC that are desperate for a "safe" neighborhood. The young graduates keep coming, so I can't see MySpace's influence goin away.

  17. Look at City Sub down on Bergen. Their subs are very reasonably priced and there is a line out the door at almost all times. A good lunch spot is desperately needed in this neighborhood and I have been waiting desperately for this since I spoke with Kevin about the venture at the beginning of May.

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