Courtesy of Austin and Brittany Havican, PhotoMotoPhotoMoto is a mobile photo booth in Houston.
New businesses open around the country every day — but not all are created equal.
This year we’ve brought you San Francisco, New York (and Brooklyn), the Twin Cities, Boston, DC, and Denver, but we’ve searched high and low in all corners of the country for the most innovative new businesses that opened within the last five years or so.
There’s a gym that generates electricity, a brewery that only brews sour beer, and a museum filled entirely of Instagram photos.
Did we forget somewhere great? Let us know in the comments.
Melia Robinson contributed to this story.
A Gathering of Stitches
A Gathering of Stitches
54 Cove St., Portland, Maine
What it is: A community space for textile crafting.
Why it’s cool: A Gathering of Stitches is a place for those who love working with fabric, yarn, and thread to gather and share resources, tools, and ideas. The open space houses communal equipment for textile work, including quilting machines, screen printing gear, and cutting tables. Visitors can also sign up for workshops to learn new skills — they offer classes in everything from dying fabric to making clothes.
Arctic Fire Clothing
Arctic Fire Clothing
Online, based in Anchorage, Alaska
What it is: Heated shorts that keep you warm while working out in the snow.
Why it’s cool: After years of suffering through cold winter training, Arctic Fire founder Jeanette Duenow had tried everything to keep her rear end warm — including sewing extra layers into her leggings or stuffing hand warmers down her pants. Eventually, she came up with the concept of heated shorts, the perfect base layer for any athlete who trains in extreme temperatures.
Yelp user Steff D.
185 Middle St., Portland, Maine
What it is: A small-batch coffee shop where every cup comes with a story.
Why it’s cool: Not only will you enjoy a healthy selection of small-batch single-origin brews at Bard, but the baristas are more than happy to share each batch’s backstory, as well as their vast knowledge of brewing styles. Bard also hosts monthly latte pouring competitions, with proceeds from each event benefiting a local charity. This shop isn’t just for coffee drinkers, but also for those who truly love the geeky ins and outs of coffee preparation.
Beer Bar/The Bar-X
Yelp user Hang W.
161 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
What it is: SLC’s premiere joint craft beer bar and speakeasy-type cocktail lounge.
Why it’s cool: “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell and a few partners bought and reopened the Prohibition-era Bar-X in 2011 so that locals could have a place to get quality classic cocktails. This year, right next door, Burrell and renowned chef Viet Pham opened the aptly named Beer Bar — the craft beer-loving little brother to the Bar-X where, in addition to 30+ beers on tap, customers can get home- and locally-made sausages, buns, Belgian-style fries, and strudel.
4219 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, Illinois
What it is: A cafe that bases customers’ taste perception on the “miracle berry.”
Why it’s cool: When you order at Berrista Coffee, your food comes with a small, red “miracle berry” — a fruit whose juice and pulp temporarily alters the eater’s perception of sour foods; all of a sudden, sour tastes sweet. Chef Homaro Cantu (of restaurant Moto and author of “The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook”) built this science into his menu with the idea that making pastries and other food with lemon, sour cream, and vinegar to create the perception of sweetness without the unhealthy sugar usually accompanied by sweetness.
Black Seed Bagels
Yelp user Bradley H.
170 Elizabeth St., New York, New York
What it is: A gourmand’s bagelry.
Why it’s cool: Black Seed takes one of New York’s most beloved establishments — the bagel shop — and puts a high-end twist on it. Their Soho shop produces quality, Montreal-style bagels that you can top with shmears like tobiko caviar cream cheese or almond butter, in addition to their beet-cured lox. Black Seed recently also started serving bagel breakfast sandwiches with baked eggs, Mile End bacon, and avocado.
Yelp user Mark H.
12469 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California
What it is: A chocolate shop and cafe that gets back to basics.
Why it’s cool: ChocoVivo owner Patricia Tsai thinks of chocolate, she thinks of the way it was originally made by the Aztecs and Mayans — in near-pure cacao bean-form, with no additives, preservatives, or processing. Tsai takes a similar approach with her own chocolate, using minimal processing and no milk powder or soy lecithin. ChocoVivo products are available in the form of chocolate bars, nibs, powders, or butters, or can be enjoyed at her Los Angeles-area shop. Try the chocolate flight to get the full experience.
Online, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts
What it is: A website that helps you get essentially anything custom-designed for you.
Why it’s cool: CustomMade connects makers with people who want custom-designed goods — anything from furniture to jewelry, and even motorcycles. Unlike Etsy, CustomMade hand picks its creators to ensure the quality of the products. It’s also getting ready to launch a mobile app so you can take a photo of a product, send it to CustomMade, and ask for one of its professionals to create something similar.
Online, based in Washington, DC
What it is: A startup that uses crowdsourcing to fund real estate development and financing projects.
Why it’s cool: Fundrise gives individuals the ability to invest directly in local real estate projects so they have the power to build the places they care about. Think of it like the Kickstarter of neighborhood development: Fundrise eliminates the middle man and puts enriching a city back into the hands of the people who live there. Fundrise crowdsources funding for projects around the country.
Geek Bar Beta
1941 W. North Ave., Chicago, Illinois
What it is: A bar for geeks, by geeks.
Why it’s cool: Geek Bar Beta opened as a popup a few months ago to such an overwhelmingly positive reception that the owners decided to extend the popup’s stay while prepping to open a permanent location on North Clybourn Avenue later this month. All food and drink menu items are geek themed (think the “curds against humanity” poutine and the “care for a jelly baby?” cocktail with pink Starburst syrup and a Pop Rocks rim), and enjoyed any time, even during bar events like D&D tournaments, movie nights, and “meet and geek” mixers.
Wherever you are in New York City
What it is: On-demand, affordable in-home stylists.
Why it’s cool: GLAMSQUAD lets you schedule blowouts and hair styling appointments that take place in your own home or office. When you book your appointment, a trained stylist comes to you equipped with all the tools and products needed to give you a great blowout, up-do, or other style. GLAMSQUAD also books make-up artists to give you a polished look for day or night. Services start at $50.
Locations in Greenpoint and Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York
What it is: The first commercial-scale rooftop greenhouse built in the U.S.
Why it’s cool: Gotham Greens is based in Brooklyn, but designs, sets up, and builds commercial greenhouses in urban areas around the United States to make sure that everyone has access to fresh, quality produce. In doing so, Gotham Greens hopes to start patching up some of the severe ecological issues in American agriculture. Gotham Greens harvests over 100 tons of produce every year.
Hopster’s Brew & Board
292 Centre St., Newton, Massachusetts
What it is: A make-your-own-beer brewery and restaurant.
Why it’s cool: This recently opened “community brewery” allows you to brew up to 10 kettles of beer in one sitting while sampling tasty cured meats and other food. Pick your barley, hops, and malt, and create a custom beer from scratch. No idea what you’re doing? Consult with one of their beer experts for a tutorial on beer making.
Instagramers Gallery Miami
2324 North Miami Ave., Miami, Florida
What it is: A showcase of the best Instagram photos from around the world.
Why it’s cool: The idea for Instagramers Gallery was originally conceived by Madrid-based artists Phil González and Jorge Martínez, who brought the concept to Miami in 2013. Instagram-using photographers and artists, or even just amateurs who love the app, showcase their work at the gallery and the best entries win awards for the work.
An online service operating in Oakland and Berkeley, California
What it is: Home cooked meals provided by your neighbors.
Why it’s cool: Residents of East Bay can apply to cook for others on Josephine.com, or they can go online and see what their neighbors are cooking up for dinner. Cooks post what meals they’re preparing for a specific night, and charge a price per plate. Local “neighbors” can go online or use the app to RSVP and reserve a meal. Once your order is in you’ll be notified where to pick up your dinner.
3011 Gulden Ln., Suite 108, Dallas, Texas
What it is: A restaurant whose menu and chef are never the same.
Why it’s cool: When you dine at Kitchen LTO, you know you’re only getting the best of the best, as chefs have to apply to serve their suggested menus at this permanent pop up — and it’s a competitive process. The winning chefs serve their menus for four months, and are subject to Dallas residents’ critiques as they vote for their favorite chefs.
1402 Beacon St., Brookline, Massachusetts
What it is: A board game library and cafe.
Why it’s cool: Knight Moves, in addition to its incredibly clever name, has nearly 30 games to choose from, with weekly events and tournaments. Monthly “membership” plans are also available for hardcore gamers, who then get perks of snacks and drinks during game sessions. Knight Moves is new to the area, having just hosted their grand opening a few months ago, but it’s already a safe haven for lovers of Settlers of Catan and D&D alike.
Kurt’s Cuts Barbershop
Kurt’s Cuts Barbershop
1459 Ogden St., Denver, Colorado
What it is: A single-chair barbershop that serves just one client at a time.
Why it’s cool: Located in an old Victorian building just seven blocks from the State Capitol, the exclusive Kurt’s Cuts doles out service that will make you feel like the only client in the store — which makes sense, as Kurt’s serves just one client at a time. Kurt Luetjen has more than 19 years of experience as a barber, garnering a loyal customer base that raves about his personal service and reasonable prices.
2030 West 30th Ave., Denver, Colorado
What it is: A mortuary-turned-multicultural restaurant.
Why it’s cool: Housed inside a stylish, expansive room that used to be Olinger Mortuary, this small-plate-style restaurant is anything but a ghost town. Its knowledgeable waitstaff and chef-owner Justin Cucci set out to connect people through the diversity of food and culture. The result is an eclectic menu of “global street food,” representing regional specialties in multiple continents. For a little worldliness, try the Mongolian BBQ duck bun, or shishito peppers paired with cheddar curds and an orange-habanero jam.
2009 Belmont Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee
What it is: A vintage clothing shop and hair salon.
Why it’s cool: Local Honey says, “We sell clothes. We do hair. Our motto is: YOU ARE OK.” As country-rock as Nashville itself, this part-vintage-shop, part-hair-salon in a blue house employs some of the best stylists in the city to do cuts and colors. Clients can then pair their new ‘dos with a selection of hip apparel and accessories.
Love & Carrots
1921 First St. NE, Washington, DC
What it is: A gardening service that transforms your backyard or rooftop into an edible landscape.
Why it’s cool: The Love & Carrots team believes the local food movement is a critical catalyst in environmental activism, but most people are intimidated to get into gardening. Combining years of expertise in urban agriculture with a passion for fresh and local food, it helps clients design, install, and maintain organically grown vegetable gardens in their DC-area homes. Want tender lettuce greens in the cold heart of winter? Love & Carrots will show you how.
997 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio
What it is: A gay gift shop.
Why it’s cool: Located in Columbus’ Short North “gayborhood,” Maotef is full of rainbow-colored and LGBT-related gifts and other items, from t-shirts to mugs to refridgerator magnets and everything in between. Visitors have been known to frequent Maotef around Columbus’ Pride Weekend.
80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, New York
What it is: A meat- and leather-using company that makes sure no part of the animals go to waste.
Why it’s cool: Andrew Tarlow and Kate Huling are the husband and wife team that take food and fashion and turn it into one interconnected business. They work with slaughterhouses to not only come by the beef they use in dishes at their Brooklyn restaurants Diner and Roman’s, but they ensure that the leather and wool also goes to good use, making and selling impressive leather and wool products for their Marlow Goods brand. Tarlow and Huling also own a butcher shop, a bakery, and a number of other related businesses.
7905 Big Bend Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri
What it is: A collective that teaches offbeat classes.
Why it’s cool: For St. Louis residents hoping to broaden their horizons, Mind Fest offers a variety of quirky classes, all taught by “subject matter experts” out of the Novel Neighbor Bookstore. You can learn anything from how to take the perfect selfie to how to live in a 300-square-foot house to how to fly a drone. Classes rotate and change constantly. Participants are encouraged not only to take classes, but to teach them as well.
Mollusk Surf Shop
4500 Irving St., San Francisco, California
What it is: Part surf shop, part surf-inspired art gallery.
Why it’s cool: In California, surfing is more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Mollusk sells everything a surfer might need, from boards to apparel to gear. Here you’ll also find books and movies for the surf-obsessed, as well as artwork that embodies the sport. Mollusk has two other locations in the Los Angeles area.
My 420 Tours
1996 S. Cherry St., Denver, Colorado
What it is: A tour guide company that centers on marijuana-themed activities.
Why it’s cool: My 420 Tours, the first devoted marijuana-themed tour operator in the US, arranges outings for participants to experience Colorado’s new “pot tourism” scene. Tours include visits with pot growers, cannabis cooks, and some of the dozens of shops around Denver where it’s now legal for anyone 21+ to buy marijuana without a prescription. My 420 Tours also helps you book weed-friendly hotels and other vacation packages.
Courtesy of Austin and Brittany Havican, PhotoMoto
Anywhere in Houston, Texas
What it is: A mobile photo booth.
Why it’s cool: PhotoMoto is a mobile photo booth operated out of a restored 1978 Volkswagon bus. People can book PhotoMoto for events and parties, and husband and wife duo Austin and Brittany Havican will drive the bus right to the event.
9499 Washington St. #50, Thornton, Colorado
What it is: An indoor, no-snow-needed training center for skiers and snowboarders.
Why it’s cool: On its synthetic foam “snow” cliffs with 10-foot drops and multiple drop-in platforms, Progresh offers classes and group activities for those looking to shred during the off-season. Customers who just want to wing it can ski or board on their own. The training center’s best feature is perhaps the Progresh airbag, the first indoor action sports airbag in the country, which absorbs impacts and feels like “landing on a cloud.”
4429 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, Arizona
What it is: Part antique store, part curio shop, part coworking space.
Why it’s cool: This shop offers everything from unique furniture to collectible curios that range from vintage to modern. It’s also a space where artists and writers can gather, brainstorm, chat, work, and unwind.
Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium
Facebook/Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium
466 Edgewood Ave. Southeast, Atlanta, Georgia
What it is: A bizarre bar and art gallery.
Why it’s cool: Since Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium opened in 2010, people have never had so much fun going to church. Designed around the owner’s invented tale of a runaway nun, “Church” sports a full bar, ping pong table, and art gallery. Get there on a Wednesday night for church organ karaoke, or any other night to take your picture in the confessional photo booth.
1330 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, California
What it is: A hotel that takes you back to 1950s Hollywood glamor.
Why it’s cool: Sparrows Lodge was originally built as MGM actor Don Castle’s Red Barn in 1951, and served as a vacation destination for Hollywood’s brightest stars. Now completely restored, Sparrows Lodge tries to recreate the old school Hollywood glamor with rustic simplicity (there are no phones or TVs in the rooms) combined with luxurious amenities like rain showers in the bathroom, designer toiletries, and private patios.
Online, based in San Francisco, California
What it is: A digital personal shopping service.
Why it’s cool: Stitch Fix gives you your own personal stylists without you having to leave home. Go online and fill out a style profile, which Stitch Fix stylists use to curate a selection of five items that are then mailed to you. You pay for what you keep, and return (free of charge) the stuff you don’t want. Stitch Fix takes the hassle out of shopping and introduces you to styles that may be a little outside of your comfort zone. The more you use the service, the more the stylists can better curate your monthly ‘Fix. On top of everything, if you keep all five items you get 25% off of your order.
The Beez Kneez
2204 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, Minnesota
What it is: Raw and local honey, delivered by bike.
Why it’s cool: The Beez Kneez is an urban apiary, community beekeeping program, and educational honey house in the middle of Minneapolis. Run by two friends with a passion for cycling and sustainable beekeeping, they make it their responsibility to teach the community about the importance of bees to our food system and how to keep a hive. They also fill orders of honey from their own hives and deliver it, by bicycle, wearing antennaed helmets.
The Cheese Board Collective
1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, California
What it is: A worker-owned and operated pizzeria and cheese shop.
Why it’s cool: Cheese Board embodies California’s hippy-dippy spirit with its laid back vibe, rocking live music, and democratic management (every employee gets an equal vote in business decisions). A favorite of Berkeley students, Cheese Board serves just one type of pizza each week with locally sourced toppings, artisanal cheeses, and sourdough baguette dough. It also does (what else?) cheese boards.
Online, based in Portland, Oregon
What it is: An online retailer of adventure travel packages and all the gear you need to enjoy them.
Why it’s cool: The Clymb is both a vacationing website to book your next adventurous getaway, as well as an e-commerce site to buy name brand outdoor accessories and apparel at discounted prices. Membership is free, and also gives you access to a community of like-minded, outdoor and adventure enthusiasts who can share tips, tricks, and resources with you.
The Coffee Trike
Follow them on Twitter for locations in Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A full-service coffee bar on wheels.
Why it’s cool: After competing in the United States Barista Championship, Alessandro “San” Bellino was inspired to open a cafe, and jumped on the food truck bandwagon. But he swapped out a truck for a sleek mahogany brown tricycle, equipped with a full espresso bar and a cooler for cold beverages. The high-quality menu features coffee roasted by the George Howell Coffee Company in Acton and milk from Mapleline Farm in Hadley, Mass.
Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
4310 Sharon Rd. Suite X05, Charlotte, North Carolina
What it is: A restaurant that fuses burgers and sushi into unconventional dishes.
Why it’s cool: Though it might seem like an unlikely combination, this sushi-burger fusion restaurant seamlessly blends the two, creating a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Their signature “Burgushi” items feature sushi rolls topped with filet mignon and burgers with buns made of spring roll wrappers. Wash it down with a hand-churned milkshake or a selection from their expansive list of craft beers.
The Green Microgym
828 SE 34th Av., Portland, Oregon
What it is: A human-powered gym that generates more than just sweat.
Why it’s cool: The custom equipment at this gym — created by founder Adam Boesel — uses the wattage from your workouts to create sustainable energy. It’s a win-win: Not only will you get in shape, you’ll help save the planet as well. The gym was also built using eco-friendly materials and runs on 85% less electricity than a regular gym.
The Rare Barrel
940 Parker St., Berkeley, California
What it is: An all-sour craft brewery.
Why it’s cool: The guys behind The Rare Barrel only brew sour beer because that’s what they like to drink. It’s a way of making beer that’s becoming a growing trend in the craft community not only for the time and attention it requires to brew, but because of its history and, of course, its flavor. The Rare Barrel takes advantage of the trend while experimenting with other ingredients like ginger, hibiscus, and sour cherries.
2029 P St. NW, Washington, DC
What it is: A 1980s childhood-themed bar.
Why it’s cool: Mario Kart, ’80s toys and candies, grilled cheese, and more than 40 types of beer and mixed beverages (any of which can be made into an ice cream float) create a whimsical bar scene that will trigger all sorts of nostalgia. Thomas Foolery comes stocked with games that any Millennial will appreciate, and has a number of “bar rules” to keep the atmosphere loose. For example, you can come dressed as Carlton from “French Prince of Bel-Air” and perform the running man to get 10% off any item.
2005 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What it is: A digital beer and wine bar.
Why it’s cool: Tria features 40 different taps — beer, cider, soda, and wine — which guests can peruse on interactive, digital menus in real time. The menus show patrons what’s available, what kicks, and what’s new, as well as the ABV, origins, and description of each drink on tap. The menus are available on your smartphone, or on complimentary tablets provided by the bar.
Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites
Facebook/Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites
On the move in Minneapolis, Minnesota
What it is: A zombie food truck.
Why it’s cool: From the dudes behind Psycho Suzi’s and Donny Dirk’s, Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites brings brain-lovers out of doors for tasty street treats. The truck’s namesake nibble is a mozzarella-stick snack with “very red sauce” and chopped pepperoni. “Danger: Zombie Inside” reads the truck’s exterior.
1118 E. Pike St., Seattle, Washington
What it is: A restaurant that makes you feel like you’re entering a carnival.
Why it’s cool: Unicorn is like a quirky carnival inside a restaurant, from the food to the music. Known for its specialty, jumbo-sized hand-dipped corndogs, Unicorn’s menu goes hand-in-hand with its live shows, original cocktails, and fun carnie activities like pinball machines and old school photo booths.
United By Blue Coffeehouse and Clothier
3421 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What it is: Responsible clothing, durable goods, and coffee under one roof.
Why it’s cool: United by Blue opened its flagship shop and coffeehouse in Center City with a plan to bring responsibly sourced and made apparel, accessories, and coffee to Philly. The store focuses on outdoor wear and gear that looks good while taking a beating. The store itself is constructed of repurposed materials as well.
126 S. 19th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What it is: A vegan street food bar.
Why it’s cool: Started by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, the chefs of Vedge and authors of the book of the same name, V Street takes a plant-based approach to great street foods from all over the world. The menu includes items like Korean-fried tempeh, harissa grilled cauliflower, and Peruvian fries with cilantro, olives, and peanuts.
Viking Braggot Company
520 Commercial St., Unit F, Eugene, Oregon
What it is: A brewery making one of the world’s oldest kinds of alcoholic beverages.
Why it’s cool: Braggot, which dates back to the vikings, takes elements of beer and mead and becomes a delicious fermented beverage. Viking Braggot is the only brewery to offer a full line of braggots, using local honey and organic ingredients. Viking Braggot beverages are on tap at the brewery’s taproom (along with tasty offerings from some of Oregon’s best food trucks) or at a variety of bars between Eugene and Portland.
Coral Level of Ala Moana Shopping Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
What it is: An incredibly upscale, hidden restaurant and “private society.”
Why it’s cool: Vintage Cave opened in 2012 poised to be a “private society elevating art, culture, and pleasure.” One of the most exclusive, and elusive, restaurants in Hawaii, Vintage Cave offers 13- to 15-course prix fixe menus for almost $300 a person, not including wine (and with a wine cellar as vast as Vintage Cave’s, skipping the wine is not recommended). Diners can admire the private art collection, including expensive Harry Winston jewels and Picasso drawings, around the sumptuous meal prepared by former French Laundry chefs.
2501 N. Northlake Way, Seattle, Washington
What it is: A “water-inspired” restaurant for pedestrians and sea captains alike.
Why it’s cool: Located on North Union Lake, Westward embraces its lakeside location with a “water-inspired” menu and ambience. Guests can walk in and dine, or dock their boats and come ashore (or take away). Each seat a view of the lake, whether the seat is inside or on the deck, where guests can sit by the fire pit and enjoy a meal or drink — under wool blankets in the winter, if they like.
Online, based in Charlottesville, Virginia
What it is: A balm company that specializes in organic, handheld massage bars.
Why it’s cool: Each handcrafted Wunderbar — made from all-natural, organic ingredients — gives your hands a relaxing, deep-tissue massage anytime you need it. The bars come in a variety of fun shapes as well, from hearts and stars to gnomes and Buddhas. They’ve also got your back for several other ailments, including moisture salves for new tattoos and lotions to help heal scars.
3408 Ohio Ave., St. Louis, Missouri
What it is: A carefully curated boutique full of vintage items from Tokyo.
Why it’s cool: Curated by owners Ian Quattrocchi and Angelina Fasano, YuMe — which translates to “dream” in Japanese — features a collection of vintage Japanese clothing, mostly from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. There’s also a selection of items hand-knitted by Fasano, as well as earrings and figurines. Customers looking for something extra can sign up for weekly classes to learn how to knit, crochet, or make origami.
See where we’ve been this year.
The Coolest New Businesses In San Francisco »
The Coolest New Businesses In Brooklyn »
The Coolest Small Businesses In The Twin Cities »
And more »
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico