City Island coffee business to serve up java and camaraderie

Peter Gennari, owner of Clipper Coffee, converted a Tuck Tuck electric scooter, often used in Southeast Asia for taxi service, to an outdoor coffee service hub.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A new café promises to serve up more than just a great cup of java.

Clipper Coffee, a startup that serves its customers not only in a new cozy coffeehouse but also from a retrofitted scooter that’s often outside the shop, has an owner who wants the business to become a vital part of the community.

Started by City Islander Peter Gennari, the coffee aficionado’s moveable feast is in the process of opening its first physical location at 274 City Island Avenue, one of several newly renovated stores on the island’s ‘main street’ at Hawkins Street.

Gennari, a Wall Street veteran for almost two decades who gave it all up to follow his dream after successfully fighting cancer and starting a family, told the Bronx Times that he has been in love with the coffee business for a long time.

“You want to follow your dreams,” said Gennari, adding “One thing I have always been passionate about was…going to a coffee house and that vibe and feel that it has.”

Gennari said that when he thinks of cafés like his, he thinks of people reading, meeting and exchanging ideas, adding it could become something of a nautically furnished civic center for the island.

“I moved here four years ago and was looking for a place to hang out, and I couldn’t find it, so I decided to create it,” said Gennari. “The landlord offered me the space and I jumped at the opportunity.”

Clipper Coffee’s store will feature a back room with a play area for children, and also plenty of used books that will be available for reading or sale.

The plan for the shop also has it doubling at times as an art gallery, showcasing the works of local artists with the store’s interior decorated with paintings and sculptures from local island artisans.

The heart of a coffee house is always a great ‘cup of joe’, and Gennari believes he’s got that covered too.

His Tuck Tuck scooter, typically used as a two seat taxi in the developing world, is outfitted with a La Marzocco Espresso Machine, and he grinds his own beans to perfection, he says.

The roughly 1,200 square foot shop currently features Counter Culture Coffee’s Big Trouble blend, and Gennari will offer up espresso, drip coffee, cappuccino, lattes, cold brew, lemonade, iced and hot teas.

The coffee shop also aspires to offer juices and health drinks, as well as full line of baked delights.

Gerard ‘Skip’ Giacco, president of the Ciy Island Chamber of Commerce, said that coffee shop will service the many young people who are moving to the island as kind of an alternative to hipster Brooklyn.

He also had words of praise for Richie DiPierro, a long-time island landlord who recently purchased the building where Clipper Coffee is located and has proceeded to renovate it.

It was a sentiment echoed by islander John Doyle, who believes that the new business will bring needed foot-traffic to City Island Avenue.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Peter Gennari, the owner of City Island’s Clipper Coffee, at the counter inside his new coffeehouse with its nautical decor at 274 City Island Avenue.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

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