Foodie Underground: Parking Spaces Turned Pop Up Cafe


With Park(ing) Day just around the corner, it seems timely to write about the latest thing to hit the streets of Manhattan: a pop up cafe.

Sponsored by two neighboring eateries – Bombay and Fika – and the New York City Department of Transportation, the pop up cafe is composed of a wooden platform that houses 14 tables and 50 chairs. An attempt at solving the problem of cramped sidewalks which don’t leave much room for outdoor seating, the pop up cafe is part foodie attraction and part public space improvement. In fact, Bombay and Fika don’t offer table service, and anyone who wants to take advantage of the space is allowed to take a seat.

Taking the place of several parking spaces, the outdoor seating doesn’t conflict with the sidewalk traffic, and it’s a project that the DOT is more than happy to support. “Every time we put down just an orange barrel, people just materialize out of nowhere,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to Streetsblog. “If you build it, they will sit.”

The cafe is all part of DOT’s attempt to make the Big Apple more livable and street-friendly. It has not only expanded its bike lanes, but also announced plans to create two pedestrian plazas on 5th Avenue and Broadway.

The pop up cafe will be removed later this year, but according to Sadik-Khan, if the DOT deems this project a success, there very well may be more of them next spring, which would mean many more creative uses of public space, therefore improving the life of anyone that works or lives in Manhattan.

Image: DNA Info

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.