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Newsbar: Back to the Beginning

A born and raised New Yorker, Principal Architect Wayne Turett has watched the city evolve. One thing that seems quintessentially New York is the city’s newsstands and coffee culture. But before a Starbucks dotted the corner of every block, New Yorkers enjoyed a quick coffee on-the-go with their morning paper from Newsbar, a newsstand-meets-cafe that was the brainchild of Turett.

‘This past week, I stumbled on elements of an old project: the remnants of Newsbar. Newsbar was the first coffee bar in New York City – a combination newsstand/coffee bar that I conceived and started years before Starbucks. The year was 1991; this is handle and custom entry plate. Finding those objects was a bit of architectural archaeology. It brought back fond memories.

‘Newsbar was a pet project of mine. The idea started gelling with me after I had designed an award-winning newsstand on the Upper West Side in 1985. It was a lot of fun and it was a small bit of urban planning, a way of showing the city just how shabby newsstands were.  A world-class city deserved a world-class newsstand! I believe it was the stimulus for the competition that lead to the newsstands we have today.  

It came about in 1990, when Maury Rubin came to me to design The City Bakery. I had so much fun with it that I decided to do something with food. Maury even gave me his business plan to help me out. There was a newsstand that went out of business around the corner from my office and on a lark, I called the Landlord to ask how much he wanted. I had fun designing The City Bakery, I loved magazines, the rest is history, I negotiated the lease, formed a limited partnership, and designed Newsbar, what was to be the first coffee bar/newsstand in New York City.’

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