Brew Urban Cafe in Himmarshee Shutters Its Doors Today
Longtime Brew customer Pete Sharas agrees Fort Lauderdale would fare better with more indie coffee shops. He's been frequenting the café since it opened in 2005 and even before that, when the caffeine haunt was called Two Street Coffee Garage.
"I'm heartbroken. Brew has been a big part of my life," he says. "To me, this coffee shop is not just a coffee shop; it's a place that provides a sense of community, a sense of Fort Lauderdale. By closing it, we are kind of losing the soul of Fort Lauderdale."
In addition to the Hunters, Jonathan Gundlach and his then wife, Sarah Radar, were founding owners of Brew Urban Cafe.
"I sold out of ownership in 2008 and moved to San Francisco, but Brew is always my first stop when visiting Fort Lauderdale," says Gundlach from his San Fran home. "I met my best friends there -- people who now live all over the world and yet we are still connected through that shop.
"It was a kind of place where people wanted to work. And when they weren't working, they would come in on their days off and enjoy the place. Our customers made themselves at home and would often stop by two or three times a day, treating the store as an extension of their living room, which was great from our perspective."
He moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2002 and stumbled upon Two Street Coffee Garage, which was closely modeled off of Seattle's renowned Caffe Vita. The Two Street owners worked at Caffe Vita and sought to bring quality espresso, proper milk steaming techniques, and latte art to South Florida.
"They were the only good coffee and espresso place in South Florida at the time," Gundlach says. "They had a great product and a small, loyal following but weren't making it financially. Eventually, they went out of business. A good friend of mine, Rick Hunter, and I thought there was potential in that original shop, so we opened the store back up in 2005 under the name of Brew Urban Cafe."
In 2007, Brew Urban Cafe expanded, opening two new locations: one in Flagler Village and the other in Victoria Park. The Flagler Village Brew flopped and closed within six months. Victoria Park slowly built momentum and now draws a steady customer base.