The Astor Place public plazas are home to two retail kiosks managed by the Village Alliance.
The south plaza kiosk, operated by Astor Plate, offers a year round menu of sandwiches, salads, treats, and beverages. The north plaza kiosk features a seasonal rotation of operators. Brodo Broth Co. offers hearty, hot broths through the winter, followed by La Newyorkina in the hot summer months with a menu of fresh cooling Mexican paletas, iced drinks and sweets.
Since opening in 2017, the kiosks have become popular with visitors and a mainstay for local residents and workers. Their history began in 2015, when as part of its plaza program; the New York City Department of Transportation began reconfiguring the Astor Place street layout to create over 10,000 sq. ft. of new public space across two plazas. Included in the design, alongside other new amenities, were two food and beverage kiosks.
As construction progressed through 2016, the Village Alliance, who manage the plazas and kiosks on behalf of the city, issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) from potential kiosk operators.
Being an advocate for small, locally owned and operated brick and mortar businesses, the Village Alliance has achieved its original aim of ensuring the kiosks are locally run. All three operators have downtown brick and mortar storefronts, with the kiosks providing a new platform for their businesses.
The Village Alliance also facilitated the return of an important aspect of Astor Place culture, Mud Coffee. For many New Yorkers, Astor Place was synonymous with the iconic Mudtruck, a converted Consolidated Edison step-van operated by Mud Coffee, the local and self-described “anti-establishment” coffee company. Although the Mudtruck was retired by 2017, the Village Alliance connected the kiosk operator with Mud Coffee. Now, Mud fans can once again get their favorite brew from Astor Plate on the south plaza.
The principles of authenticity and the continuity of local culture also extend to the kiosk’s aesthetic and physical design. The south plaza kiosk draws influence from the sharp, rugged lines of the iconic Alamo sculpture known by New Yorkers as “the Cube”, also constructed from metal. The north plaza kiosk operated by La Newyorkina and Brodo features bright striking colors, with printed murals and patterns reminiscent of the vibrant street art found across the East Village.
As a non-profit community organization working to enhance the quality of life across Astor Place and Greenwich Village, the Village Alliance reinvests the entire kiosk rental income into the operation of Astor Place. The income helps fund Astor Place landscaping and beautification, sanitation, free summer events, including the Astor Alive! performing arts festivals, among other projects.
Apart from offering a convenience for locals and visitors, the kiosks also fulfill another vital purpose, the enlivenment of public space. They act as a gathering place,helping bring the community together, and contributing to the vibrancy and vitality of the neighborhood. Just as locals once congregated at the Mudtruck, they now do so around the kiosks, enjoying the sense of belonging and sense of place the kiosks subtly provide.
Come rain or shine, polar vortexes of heatwaves, the Astor Place kiosks are always open. Next time you pass through Astor Place, take a moment to stop and warm up with Mud Coffee or hearty broths, or cool down with fresh frozen paletas. Moreover, as you sit and refuel, you can do so knowing that by having supported the kiosks, you have also contributed to making Astor Place an even better public space.