It took a pair of brothers with a forward-thinking attitude, but it finally happened. The ground floor of the long-empty Corn Exchange Building at 81 East 125th Street has a new tenant: the Ginjan Cafe.
And it checks all the boxes: It's a small business offering a locally-made product that's also fresh and healthy.
Opened by Guinean-born brothers Mohammed and Rahim Diallo, the cafe specializes in a type of ginger juice popular in West Africa called ginjan. The brothers' organic version, made with fresh ginger and cold-pressed pineapple and lemon juice, can be ordered cold (poured or bottled), steamed (think instant cold remedy), and in latte form.
The stylish space, wrapped in graphic wallpaper, sells other kinds of African beverages as well as La Colombe coffee and artisanal pastries from East Harlem businesses such as Pabade Bakery. A crepe master who honed his craft in Paris makes both sweet and savory crepes to order ($6-$12).
Soon, the Ginjan Cafe will have a liquor license and a bigger menu, including soups and sandwiches with African accents. As it gets up and running, hours are Monday to Friday 7am-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-6pm.