Sole cafe: Coffee shop plants hipster flag in Mill Basin

A league of its own: Jilly’s Coffee on Avenue N is the only hip coffee shops in Mill Basin.
Brooklyn Daily
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Rookie cafe Jilly’s is the only java joint in Mill Basin serving up chic brews and desserts, and it’s bringing a rare hipster vibe to a neighborhood that’s literally and figuratively as far from Williamsburg as you can get in the borough. In fact, it’s the only place in Southern Brooklyn to get one particularly trendy menu item outside of that new frontier of hipster encroachment, Bay Ridge.

“We’re unique and you’re not going to find a coffee shop also selling açai bowls,” said Joiemarie Leone, who runs the shop with her father Stephen, whose nickname is Jilly. “The only place you can get the bowl besides us is in Bay Ridge — but Jilly’s is the only place that sells them in the neighborho­od.”

In addition to coffee, patrons can also get frappuccino, gelato, smoothies, and paninis, as well as the increasingly popular açai-berry bowls — a thick fruit-medley snack that youngsters and health-conscious eaters love, said Leone.

“It’s a berry puree in a bowl with a bunch of toppings — it’s really good and vegetarian and vegan-friendly because it’s all fruits,” she said. “We get a lot of business in the afternoon because a lot of kids start coming in for the bowls.”

The Schenectady Avenue cafe started out as a smaller eatery tucked just around the corner from Avenue N, but after a recent expansion that created a new entry on the lettered avenue, the place is seeing more and newer customers, said Leone.

“I found that when we were in our old location we got more older people, but now we get younger kids and a mixture overall,” she said.

The new spot has a glass exterior, more seating, and faces the busy thoroughfare of Avenue N, attracting newer faces daily, said Leone. A big step up from the small place they started in.

“Before, we were more secluded and no one really knew about us,” she said. “But now we moved to a bigger location, so when you drive by you’ll see that we’re open and that’s how we attract our customers.”

Opening the coffee shop, which celebrates its two-year anniversary next month, was a long-time dream of Leone’s father.

“He always talked about opening a business, and my dad found a very strong interest in coffee, and we decided to open a coffee business,” she said.

Jilly’s is still a small operation, staffed by a small team including Leone, her father, and four other workers. The atmosphere is friendly, according to Leone, and she says the exclusivity of the shop in the area makes it worthwhile for potential patrons.

“Our employees are very nice, opening, and welcoming, and you’re not going to find anything like us around,” she said.

Leone said that Jilly’s plans on expanding its menu by winter, hoping to satisfy customer cravings for soups and salads and other vegan-friendly foods.

Could artisanal kale tacos be far behind?

Jilly’s (2185 Schenectady Ave. between Avenues N and O in Mill Basin) 7 am– 6 pm.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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