"It felt like we were on a suicide mission from the day we opened,” says Kyle Glanville, co-owner and “G” of G&B. “We never had any investment or a cushion,” adds Charles Babinski, the “B”. When you see what G&B has become today, it’s difficult to imagine anything other than a thriving business in a bustling Grand Central Market, but the partners certainly struggled through the growing pains of small business.
In 2013, Grand Central Market wasn’t the culinary hub it is today. There was no Egglsut. No Horse Thief, or even Madcapra to draw in crowds at the Market. “We started as a pop-up and borrowed money from family to buy equipment,” Babinski recalls. “I 100% believed we were doomed,” says Glanville, “but we had an ally with the Market, because they had as much investment in us being successful as anybody.” In those days, one of the partners would open G&B each morning, while the other opened Go Get Em Tiger, their second location on Larchmont. At lunch they would switch places and close each shop in the evening. Margins were thin and times were tough.
Then, everything changed in the blink of an eye. The New York Times published an article calling G&B’s Almond-Macadamia Iced Latte “almost certainly the best in the country.” Within an hour, the shop was inundated with customers. “It was like the Deloitte, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America buildings just drained down to us,” Glanville remembers. And they all wanted to try this drink. In success, as had been the case in failure, Glanville and Babinski found themselves working from open to close; now completely understaffed, with all hands on deck. Someone would be up at 4:30am making almond milk every day just to meet the insane demand and expectations. The boys have many a great story about these days. If you ever run into them at the bar, ask them about the old doorbell.
If you’ve been Downtown for a while you’ll remember the bar’s original digs. You might even remember the month or two of construction, when they moved to the other side of Oyster Gourmet and operated from a glorified wooden cart. Their goal was always to create a 360 degree service bar though. “Customers come in and their first inclination is still to get behind someone else and wait,” says Glanville. The trick is knowing you can order from anywhere around the bar, not just in front of the savory-filled pastry case on the Hill St side. Another tip: try the waffle, best served with ricotta and jam, or one of their magical “One and Ones” — barista-split double shots, served as two separate espresso or espresso-based drinks. They’re excellent when shared as a “Buddy Shot” and even better when they’re not, see: “Business & Pleasure.”
To think now they’ve achieved their original goal of 360 service, G&B would be “done” is not to know the men behind the operation. Be it the lighting, hours, menus, design, or even the products themselves, G&B will forever be evolving and re-inventing themselves.
Written by Steve Day
Photographed by Frank Maldonado