Bluestone Lane, the Australian-inspired coffee shop, is rapidly taking over the NYC coffee scene. In January, they opened their eighth location on Carmine Street in the West Village and have two more openings planned for Astor Place and in Dumbo this spring. The coffee invasion is not restricted to NYC either – the business opened its Philadelphia store last year, and has plans to open shops in other east coast cities such as Boston, Chicago and DC.
Everything from the bold Australian espresso, to the down-under classics like avocado smash, to the charming interior design all reflect the coffee culture in Melbourne, where Bluestone Lane’s founder Nick Stone comes from. Unbeknownst to many Americans, Australians take their coffee extremely seriously, and the coffee capital, Melbourne, proudly topped CNN’s list of the world’s 8 greatest coffee cities.
We caught up with Nick to find out more about the popular chain.
Spoon: What inspired you to open Bluestone Lane?
NS: Born and raised in Melbourne, good Aussie coffee has always been part of my culture. When I moved to NY to chase my girlfriend and studied Executive Management in business school. During a course on venture capital, I had to work on a business idea all semester. This was when the vision of opening an Aussie-inspired coffee shop in NYC first came to my mind. It also meant that Bluestone Lane, unlike many cafes in NYC, runs on a corporate structure as opposed to an owner-operated model, enabling it to expand and grow at a fast pace.
Spoon: Why the name Bluestone Lane?
NS: It has nothing to do with my last name! The name Bluestone Lane pays tribute to the laneway cafe culture of my home city Melbourne. These charismatic cobblestone lanes are paved using bluestone, which provides a very durable surface and has been used by the British for centuries. Did you know that the British built Melbourne’s downtown area as a grid, just like they did NYC?
Spoon: During my several visits to various branches of Bluestone Lane, every single staff member I came across was Aussie. Does your business make an effort to have an All-Australian team to offer your customers the full Aussie experience?
NS: We certainly don’t discriminate when we hire. However, Australians’ love for traveling means there are many young Australians working and traveling in the US on a short-term basis. Given the diverse and broad cafe culture in Australia, many of these people have experience working in cafes in Australia while at school and/or university. Therefore they already have the necessary training for our stores. Many Australians working in the US used to work in ski fields, but we say to them: how about working at Bluestone Lane and living in NYC for a while?
Spoon: Do you make an effort to source your supplies from Australian businesses?
NS: Our coffee is sourced from the Melbourne-based coffee supplier Niccolo Coffee. The beans are roasted in Melbourne and flown each week to our US stores. We also source our chai from Prana Chai, another Melbourne-based business.
Spoon: Apart from the fantastic Aussie-style coffee, what distinguishes Bluestone Lane from other coffee shops in NYC?
NS: We strive to provide our customers with not just food and beverages, but an overall great experience as well. I believe good customer dining experience should be the whole package: excellent customer service, beautiful dining environment, and fantastic food and beverages. This is why we pay attention to all these details, and offer our customers not just delicious food and coffee, but a place to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC as well.
In addition to old favorites from the Greenwich Ave menu, like the avocado smash, the Carmine Street location offers some new menu items such as green pea smash and Shepherd’s pie. You’re sure to leave with a happy tummy, and perhaps a slight Aussie accent.