General Excellence: The Peekskill Coffee House
On Thursday evenings at 7 pm, a knitting group of several women descend on The Peekskill Coffee House, situating themselves in, on, and around a bohemian mix of mismatched tables, chairs, and couches to knit and catch up over coffee. Ditto Friday mornings, for a group of moms with young kids; Monday nights for trivia buffs; and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for live-music junkies. And then there are those who’ve been stopping in daily since TPCH opened in 2003, ordering the usual flatiron blend (named after the triangular-shaped building in which TPCH is housed) or an espresso.
Few businesses come to be known as their city’s “living room,” but The Peekskill Coffee House has earned that distinction among its customers. Without TPCH, in fact, many of them may not have had a reason to go to Peekskill in the first place.
When TPCH owner Sunny Cover moved to Peekskill from Tarrytown in 2001, “there was nothing downtown,” she says, and “people didn’t even want to go there.” But Cover and her two business partners (she bought them out in 2009) took a gamble and opened up shop across from the Paramount Hudson Valley theater, effectively blazing the path for a host of businesses that would follow in their wake. Indeed, TPCH laid the groundwork for the restaurants and bars that today are synonymous with Peekskill’s reemergence as a foodie destination, predating, for example, the Peekskill Brewery and Birdsall House—both of which were planned (at least partially) over coffee at TPCH.
The coffee house has come quite a way since receiving its first loan from the Grow Peekskill Fund, which provides financing to small businesses in the city. To boost revenue, Cover began offering soups, salads, crêpes, and panini in 2010. Sales are up 30 percent since then, and food sales now account for 15 percent of business. In 2013, Cover expanded into the space next door, so her latte art-trained staff of 16 has more room to prepare the 20,000 or so cups of locally roasted coffee they serve each month. In Cover’s words, “The house is packed, the plates are clean, and the customers are happy.”