Last fall, a new cafe arrived on Bleecker Street. Since then, Two Hands has become a beloved addition to the NoHo community. It’s an effortlessly stylish spot with a breezy, relaxed vibe that feels a world away from busy Broadway right around the corner and dishes up delicious, Australian cafe fare. We recently sat down with owners Henry Roberts and Giles Russell to learn more about Two Hands and what goes on behind the scenes to make their cafe such a lovely spot.
What led to the creation of Two Hands? We both moved over to New York, (now about 7 years ago), from Sydney, Australia. We were both working in hospitality in SoHo/Nolita but found there was a lack of quality, simple, healthy food paired with good coffee, in bright and welcoming spaces as found back in Australia. We then set out to create a community space in New York where we could provide this. Which lead to the first space on Mott St, in 2014, which quickly became a real hub for the community.
I think the idea of creating a real community space through the café is so important and oftentimes missing from a lot of places in New York. How do you foster this environment in the space? The calm and welcoming spaces we strive for comes from the environment we grew up with on the Australian coast. Relaxed spaces full of locals and friends hanging out for a meal, rather than speeding in and out New York stlye. We take inspiration from the spaces we’re lucky to have back home, with beautiful natural finishes, local artworks, and natural light! Utilizing natural light is a huge factor in fostering a welcoming and calm environment at all of the Two Hands spaces.
With community in mind, I’d like to highlight the incredible work you’ve been doing for Australia Bushfire Support. In a few days, you put together a really incredible fundraiser that brought together a lot of other brands. As native Australians, this disaster hits close to home for you both and I want to applaud the work you’ve put into relief efforts. Absolutely, we were so overwhelmed seeing everything from back home, as well as being inspired by the work of so many Australian small businesses working to raise much needed funds. It was absolutely incredible, we got together with some local businesses and friends who helped to donate time, liquor, gift cards, raffle and auction prizes. The turnout was beyond anything we imagined with a line around the corner for most of the night! It was a really great crowd all there to show any support they could. The donations from that night totalled over $25,000 US, which is absolutely incredible and will go towards a few incredible causes such as the Red Cross, NSW and Victorian Fire Services and Wildlife support. We’re so proud of the New York community in helping us to support Australia and will continue to help as much as we can during this time.
What are your favorite dishes on the menu? Some popular dishes on our menu includes some old favourites and also some new ones. The Pulled Chicken Bowl has been really popular as a healthy and fresh dish, with some crunch from turmeric pickled jicama. The Salmon Quinoa Bowl is a personal favorite as its something you wouldn’t normally do at home! With a salmon filet, miso mushrooms, golden beets and turmeric quinoa. It’s a great winter bowl!
What drew you to open up a NoHo location? NoHo is such a beautiful and tight knit hub of New York, we are thrilled to be able to become a part of the community there. NoHo is the perfect example of what we set out to achieve in New York for a relaxing space for locals to hang out and take a moment for themselves in the midst of the hustle. Every day they’ll be neighbors or gym mates meeting or running into each other at Two Hands, which is so fun to be a part of.
NoHo is the hub of New York’s ‘Fitness Alley’ and is a center of whole-body wellness, including healthy food. I think of Two Hands as a space that’s been putting forth ideas of health in an approachable, fun, and tasty way. How do you incorporate wellness into the restaurant? Absolutely, we think that food should be approachable and nutritious, we’re lucky to work with some amazing suppliers who provide us with fresh and local produce as much as we can. This makes a huge difference in the taste of the food. Ultimately we make food that isn’t too altered but let the ingredients speak for themselves.
And lastly, what are some of your other favorite businesses in NoHo? The AARMY group has been really awesome to get to know, KITH, Yoga Vida, Bleecker St Bar, and Gato for a late night nibble!