• at home and at work with
    AT HOME AND AT WORK WITH NICK CARNEVALE
    Owner of Gasoline Alley Coffee, New York City
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    With two facades that connect Lafayette and Mulberry streets, the aptly named Gasoline Alley Coffee is Lower Manhattan's go-to for a quality cup without any airs. Despite its unassuming size, the storefront is readily noticeable from the fire-engine red benches that sit outside of each entrance. It was on one of those benches where we enjoyed a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, and learned of the shop's history from its owner, Nick Carnevale.

    Nick starts by taking us back in time to his days in Southern Italy where his father owned several old-school espresso bars. As a child and teenager, Nick would spend afternoons behind the counter, studying his father's artful technique for the perfect cup of caffe - a history that would eventually come full circle.

    However, nearly two decades passed before Nick once again found himself on the other side of the coffee counter. After spending several years as a merchant for global brands like Topman and Armani Exchange, Nick felt it was time to try something entirely different, but perhaps not entirely foreign. So he revisited an old passion - one wrapped in nostalgia from his childhood in Calabria.

    But Nick's approach to his own business wouldn't merely replicate his father's traditional Italian shops.
    Wanting to “put a more modern take on what [his] father had done in the past,” Nick took a year off to train at the Intelligentsia Labs and to work at various third-wave coffee shops throughout the city. After perfecting his craft, Nick and buddy Neville Ross opened the first Gasoline Alley Coffee in 2011.

    The day after our visit to his shop, Nick invited us to the lovely Brooklyn home he shares with his wife Catherine, a fashion designer. Despite heavy rain and gray skies, light poured through the apartment's expansive windows, accenting the vast collection of objects he and his wife collected through years of world travel. We passed nearly three hours listening to captivating stories of how they stumbled upon their unique finds, and of how the two design enthusiasts manage to compromise between their sometimes competing sensibilities.
  • WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO OPEN GASOLINE ALLEY?

    I was tired of the corporate world and wanted a lifestyle change - I wanted to be my own boss. I could have moved to another corporation, or taken another job at a smaller brand, but in the end, I decided to do something completely different. My father used to own traditional, Italian coffee shops, so it was something I knew, but he inspired me to put a more modern take of what he had done in the past...

  • DID YOU LEARN TO MAKE COFFEE FROM YOUR FATHER?

    I used to pull espressos on his coffee machines, and knew my way around the bar. But when I decided to open Gasoline Alley Coffee, I took a year off before opening and worked at various coffee places around the city. But more third-wave coffee shops, rather than traditional coffee shops. What we do is very different from what my father did.

  • HOW DID YOU END UP CHOOSING THE LOCATION FOR GASOLINE ALLEY?

    Once we found the place on Lafayette, we kind of fell in love with the building and what the space had to offer. It's such a small space, but with two facades on Lafayette and Mulberry. It used to be a run-down, vintage sunglass store, but we saw the potential. It was right. We just had that feeling...that it was gonna work.

  • OF COURSE WE HAVE TO ASK - HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?

    I enjoy black coffee. I pretty much don't have milk with it, or sugar. I'm obviously a big fan of espresso, but after spending more time here, I've also come to enjoy longer black coffee - single-origin pour overs. These are easier to prepare at home, without much equipment, but if the coffee itself is sophisticated, you can really hone in on the flavors.

  • My father used to own traditional, Italian coffee shops, so it was something I knew, but he inspired me to put a more modern take of what he had done in the past.

  • WHAT WAS YOUR PROCESS FOR FURNISHING YOUR HOME?

    It just evolved over time...we didn't rush it. We love to travel, so our home is about bringing things back from places that we love, and we try to not be too one dimensional. We enjoy furniture shops too. Even though we don't have much more space, we still like to visit them every weekend to be inspired, and to just enjoy great design.

  • WERE THERE ANY MAJOR POINTS OF CONTENTION?

    We kind of agree with each other's taste. But if it were just me, the apartment would probably have a very clean, modern, industrial feel. But my wife, she loves color. So we try to be a little more eclectic and colorful. There would be a lot more color if it were just her, haha.

  • We love to travel, so our home is about bringing things back from places that we love, and we try to not be too one dimensional.

  • We enjoy furniture shops. Even though now we don't have much more space, we still like to visit them every weekend to be inspired, and to just enjoy great design.

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