If you’ve hung around Franklin Avenue for any amount of time in the last couple years, odds are that you’ve run into a place run by Michael de Zayas. The affable Crown Heights stay-at-home dad opened coffee shop Little Zelda between Sterling and Prospect Place in 2012, named in honor of his baby daughter. Since then, he’s expanded into the space next door, which now dishes up fresh bagels and bread, and opened a pocket-sized bookstore called Hullabaloo. This Friday marks the opening of de Zayas’ newest place, a bar and cafe called Two Saints that he hopes becomes as much a community hang-out and friendly neighborhood institution as Little Zelda is. “We want it to be welcoming and comfortable, and we expect a diverse, unpretentious local crowd,” de Zayas said. “It’s going to be a real Crown Heights bar.”
In advance of tomorrow’s opening, de Zayas gave us a sneak peek inside his new space, which will be open from 7 am to 2 am on weeknights and until 3 am on weekdays. “We want you to feel at home, like you own the place,” de Zayas smiled.
The cafe will serve up the same coffee concoctions as at LIttle Zelda, with pastries available in the morning. At night, they’ll have eight beers on draft, a selection of wines, and also a cocktail menu with some twists on classics as well as some items inspired by the neighborhood. (There will also always be bottles of Red Stripe available). Bartender Tamara Clarke, who was a regular at Little Zelda before de Zayas brought her on board, planned a drink tentatively named “The Sweet Tea” that incorporates sorrel, ginger beer, and gin or vodka as a nod to the neighborhood’s Caribbean roots.
They’ll also sometimes have Caribbean snack foods available from the nearby Trinidad Golden Palace. The space itself is lovely: There are large 70s rumpus room-like open booths in the back, and tables and stools in the front.
As for Zelda, the little girl who inspired de Zayas’ first cafe’s name, expect to see her around the space quite a bit during the day. At just three and a half, the little girl can already pull a decent espresso. “She tamps now and can push the button,” de Zayas noted proudly. “The other day when she was watching me [operate the espresso machine], she told me, ‘No, you’re doing it wrong!'” Clarke laughed. “Soon she’ll be making cappuccinos.”
Two Saints opens Friday at 753 Nostrand Avenue, near St. John’s Place.