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New Chock Full o' Nuts Coffee Shop in NYC

Chock Full o' Nuts coffee shops perking up again in city after opening new shop on W. 23rd St.
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(Franchise Clique)
Updated: Feb 20, 2011
Word count: 562 · Read time: 4 mins

Chock Full o' Nuts coffee shops perking up again in city after opening new shop on W. 23rd St.

BY Larry Mcshane

Originally Published:Sunday, September 12th 2010, 4:00 AM
Updated: Monday, September 13th 2010, 8:15 AM

Chock Full o
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Chock Full o' Nuts, the coffee shop chain of yore is back in the city. CEO Joseph Barone (r. in photo below) and senior vice president Jim LaGanke toast to W. 23rd St. store's success.
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Get ready for a taste of old New York.

Chock Full o' Nuts, once king of local coffee shops and long a caffeinated part of city DNA, brews a bit of nostalgia this week with a new W. 23rd St. eatery - its first since the Koch administration.

The sleek shop, with its stainless steel features, resurrects favorites from the decades-old Chock Full o' Nuts menu: Fresh whole wheat doughnuts, homemade datenut bread with cream cheese and the renowned lemon cream pie.

And coffee - pots and pots of coffee, served in retro mugs at an old-school counter for $1.95 per large cup.

'We want to be New York's coffee shop, like we were 30 years ago,' said Brooklyn native Joseph Bruno, who partnered with the company on the new java joint.

'To me, a coffee shop is not just coffee. We want to be uniquely New York.'

Bruno's dedication to his mission is apparent from his waistline.

'I musta put on 20, 25 pounds in the last month tasting everything on the menu to make sure it's right,' he said.

His Holy Grail was recreating the shop's classic doughnuts. The original recipe was located, with one problem: It listed an unspecified 'secret ingredient.'

'I spent 10, 12 sessions in a doughnut lab reproducing the taste of the whole wheat doughnut from memory,' said Bruno.

The shops were once as well- known for the company jingle as its cups of joe: 'Chock Full o' Nuts is that heavenly coffee, better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy.'

The lyrics adorn the walls of the new place, along with vintage black-and-white photos - including an homage to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, a former Chock Full o' Nuts executive.

He was hired by company founder William Black, whose Depression-era concept was a cup of coffee and a sandwich for a nickel.

His first shop opened in 1932, and business peaked with 100 locations.

When Black died, Chock Full o' Nuts abandoned the coffee shops in the early 1980s.

The new incarnation took two years to go from concept to a low-key 'soft opening' tomorrow. The grand opening is slated for Oct. 11.

Another restaurant is set to open soon in Barone's Bay Ridge neighborhood, with plans for a total of 50 citywide across the next 15 years.

'We're returning to our roots,' said Jim LaGanke, senior vice president for Chock Full o' Nuts Cafes.

For Bruno, the sights and smells of the new shop conjure Sunday afternoons in the fall.

'I remember as a kid, my Uncle Arthur used to take me to the Jets games, and he'd take me to the Chock Full o' Nuts on the way,' Bruno said.

'He loved the coffee, and a tuna sandwich. I believe in this so much.'

There's one element of the original Chock Full o' Nuts shops the new group ignored: The famous long tables, with their unwelcoming stools.

'Mr. Black wanted not-so-comfortable seats, so people would get in and get out,' said LaGanke, promising far more inviting furnishings.

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