About two years ago, Gregorys Coffee decided to venture out of the city to open suburban locations. At that point, the small Manhattan-based chain’s shops were mostly among office buildings whose caffeine-craving business professionals were the bulk of the customers.
Opening its first Long Island coffee shops this year — in Deer Park and Melville — was eye opening, Gregorys Coffee founder Greg Zamfotis said.
Not only are sales at the Long Island stores 25% higher than projected but also the Melville shop is the bestselling of the chain’s 33 shops, due in part to many New York City customers who have not returned to working in their offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“I think, on Long Island, people live and work there. And there’s a much more robust residential community,” said Zamfotis, who is in lease negotiations to open four more Gregorys Coffee shops on Long Island within the next 18 months.
Long Island’s high taxes and rent are barriers to entry for many businesses, but its demographics — high-income consumers willing to spend money at restaurants — are boding well these days for both coffee shops and casual chicken restaurants, both of which are springing up in high numbers in the area, real estate and restaurant experts said.
“But typically, when retailers come into the market, their sales are very strong. So, they’re able to justify the higher rent and higher taxes,” said Russel Helbling, a principal at Sabre Real Estate Advisors in Garden City who is the exclusive broker for Starbucks and PDQ chicken restaurants on Long Island.
Starbucks, Dunkin’, Brownstones Coffee, Southdown Coffee, Druthers Coffee, PDQ, Chick-fil-A, Mad for Chicken and Hot Chicken Mama are among the chains that have opened new Long Island locations in the last year and/or plan to open new local spots by the end of 2021 that will number in the dozens.
“Another chain starting to look in the market is Raising Canes [Chicken Fingers] from Louisiana and I’d expect to see Zaxby’s enter the market as well,” said Steve Gillman, a partner in the White Plains office of an Atlanta-based real estate firm, The Shopping Center Group, who is the exclusive representative for Chick-fil-A on Long Island.
Here is a sampling of new coffee and chicken spots slated for Long Island:
Brownstones Coffee: The restaurant chain has four locations — all on Long Island — and soon will sign a lease to open a fifth eatery, in Commack, by the end of this year, said Christina Walberg, director of location development for the Amityville-based company. She declined to disclose the address.
Brownstones serves “all-day” breakfast, lunch and specialty coffees from 7:30 a.m. to closing time — 3 p.m. Sundays and 3:30 p.m. all other days.
Seeking to put more focus on coffee, Brownstones has signed a lease to open Brownstones Coffee Roasting Co. at 55 Merrick Rd. in Amityville, beside its existing restaurant in the Amity Mall shopping center, in the next four months, Walberg said.
The new store will have an in-house roaster doing small-batch roasting of coffee beans to sell to other restaurants, and it will sell brewed coffee and roasted beans to retail customers, she said.
“We wanted to have more control over the coffee roasting, be able to create a blend that is special to our concept, and also to help other restaurants improve their offering of coffee, too,” she said.
Brownstones has outgrown the 2,400-square-foot space its West Islip restaurant occupies, so that location will relocate to a space double the size, at 425 Union Blvd., before Thanksgiving, she said.
Chick-fil-A: The top-selling chicken chain in the country entered the Long Island market in 2015 with an eatery in Port Jefferson Station.
The Atlanta-based chain of more than 2,500 restaurants in North America now has seven Long Island locations, including one that opened in Smithtown in March, and it is planning more local eateries.
A Chick-fil-A under construction at 249-33 Rockaway Blvd., Rosedale, within the town of Hempstead, is expected to open in the first quarter of 2022, Gillman said.
The chicken chain also is awaiting town building approvals for two other planned Long Island eateries — at 805 West Montauk Hwy. in West Babylon and 124 East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington, he said.
Gillman said there are other planned Chick-fil-A locations under lease negotiations on Long Island that he could not disclose.
Chick-fil-A did not respond to requests for comment.
PDQ: The fast-casual chicken chain, which has about 60 restaurants, opened its first New York restaurant, in Farmingdale, in July 2019. The Tampa, Florida-based company plans to open another Long Island restaurant, on Old Country Road in Westbury Plaza.
PDQ did not respond to a request for comment.
Starbucks: The world’s largest coffee chain, with nearly 33,000 stores globally, has been expanding aggressively on Long Island, where it has 91 stores. The Seattle-based chain plans at least seven more in the area, according to Helbling or town officials.
Starbucks has three new Long Island stores under construction — at an apartment building at 199 2nd St. in Mineola, at 201 Sunrise Hwy. in Bellmore and at 305 West Jericho Tpke. in Huntington, Helbling said. Also, the chain will soon break ground on a free-standing store at 159 W. Main St. in Patchogue, he said.
In addition, town representatives on Long Island said building-related applications are awaiting approvals for three proposed Starbucks stores — at 2799 Rte. 112 in Medford (Brookhaven), 1675B Sunrise Hwy. in Bay Shore (Islip) and 90 Montauk Hwy. in Sayville (Islip).
Starbucks did not respond to requests for comment.
Top 5 Coffee Chains by U.S. Sales in 2020
Starbucks — $18.5 billion
Dunkin’ — $8.8 billion
Dutch Bros Coffee — $584 million
Tim Hortons — $511 million
Peet’s Coffee — $269 million
Top 5 Chicken Chains by U.S. Sales in 2020
Chick-fil-A — $13.7 billion
KFC — $4.7 billion
Popeyes — $4.6 billion
Zaxby’s — $2 billion
Wingstop — $1.8 billion