Mandy Stevens has been a freelancer in the marketing and advertising sphere for years, so she knows what it's like trying to find a comfortable place to work. "Every space I went to, the space isn't quite right," she explains. And that included both coffeeshops and co-working spots, where people can book desks and offices for hours at a time.
Coffeeshops aren't always conducive to work, she notes, and the co-working spaces are "sort of like the office you're trying to leave" by becoming a freelancer. So she and her husband, Kristian Barowsky, an architect, decided to open a hybrid. "We're trying to meet a niche in the marketplace that hasn't been met yet," Stevens says. "We worked in Chicago, and we put all our favorite things together to offer them to people who might be open to it."
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The couple nabbed the old Buffalo Exchange address at 230 East 13th Avenue (that store has moved to the Tigalo project on Broadway), where they'll soon unveil The Desk, a co-working cafe. "We're making decisions to help people do their best work," says Stevens. So the front of the space will feature a more traditional cafe atmosphere with first-come-first-served free seating. In the back, seats at communal tables -- ideal for people who want to bang out a project in a quiet area -- can be reserved for $5 an hour. The Desk will also have a conference room, a private office and booths that Stevens says are ideal for conference calls or virtual meetings. Reservations can be made over the internet, so people who want a workspace will be able to book days in advance.
While the Desk will offer food -- and Ink coffee -- to its patrons, the owners aren't billing it as a restaurant. "We'll have standard café fare," Stevens explains. "We're curating the eats on our own, hand-selecting sources and partnering with bakeries for sandwiches and food. We don't have an oven or stove, so the selection will be mostly pre-made, baked that day and delivered."
Construction is slated to begin at the end of the week; Stevens and Barowsky expect to open the doors of the Desk by the end of March.