Slave to the Grind has long been a Bronxville staple, with customers traveling from all over Westchester to visit the homey coffee shop. On July 3, the family-owned coffee bar is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a major milestone for any Westchester food business. How has this mom-and-pop shop managed to thrive with Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts popping up on every corner? “We were the first coffee bar in Westchester when we opened in 1993,” explains owner Carol Marshall, adding that when a Bronxville Starbucks opened two years later, there was obviously some initial cause for concern. However, the neighboring chain didn’t poach customers the way Marshall feared it would, something she attributes to the customer service that Slave to the Grind provides. The mission has always been to create a community within the shop, a feeling that chains cannot replicate. Knowing a customer’s name and their “usual” is part of the job description.
In many ways, coffee culture has — and hasn’t — changed over the past quarter century. Having a conversation with your coffee was a major draw in the less-digital-obsessed early ’90s, when it was commonplace to strike up small talk with strangers sitting beside you. Yet Marshall believes that fostering a friendly environment, where patrons feel at home, is part of what has kept them coming back. Even during the 2008 recession, Marshall says customers continued to prioritize their coffee habits at Slave to the Grind.
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When it comes to current coffee and dietary trends, however, all roads lead to Slave to the Grind. There’s an extensive list of espresso drinks, iced tea, hot and iced coffees, plus vegan and gluten-free baked goods. The iced coffee craze is big here, with unique flavors like snickerdoodle, banana, oatmeal, and many more, made with flavored oils, not syrups, which impart a less artificial taste.
Looking forward, the Marshall family’s goals are simply to continue their success. Opportunities to franchise have been presented over the years, but aren’t so tempting. “What makes Slave to the Grind special is the community here. That’s not easy to replicate,” says Marshall. This July will be a milestone for the coffee shop and we look forward to what the next 25 years have in store.
Slave To The Grind
58 Pondfield Rd
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