They say that the train waits for no one. Apparently however, the train sometimes waits at the Philipse Manor train station for a conductor to buy a cup of coffee from local recent high school graduates.
Sleepy Hollow High School grad Dennis Maloy and Nick Sackman of Hide Boarding School in Connecticut are running their coffee and breakfast stand at the Philipse Manor train station for the second summer in a row.
“It started because it’s tough to get a job for the summer,” said Maloy. “We tried to think of where the money would be. There’s only one thing that every parent does – drink coffee.”
So Maloy and his best friend and neighbor on Kelbourne Avenue in Philipse Manor started buying Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, muffins, water bottles, and other products in bulk from Sam’s club to sell to morning commuters.
The boys wake up at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday to set up their stand for the 6:28 a.m. train. The young entrepreneurs are dedicated to serving the best coffee they can with the means they have, and so they brew the coffee for about a half an hour every morning right before the train comes so that it is hot and fresh for their customers.
The boys even brew the ice coffee separately the night before, rather than just putting ice in hot coffee.
“We are really trying for quality products,” said Sackman. The young business partners highlighted that to power their coffee maker at the station they bring a generator, as not to use MTA’s electricity.
Despite Philipse Manor Café’s efforts to respect MTA and provide a good service to local commuters, the founders were told a week after starting their business up again this summer that they could not sell products on the platform. The MTA Police arrived at the station to say that a complaint had come in from a commuter and that because of regulations, the coffee stand could not be on MTA property.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said, “ Under railroad regulation we don’t allow business to be conducted on platforms for safety reasons.”
“But the MTA police were very professional and genuinely nice people,” Maloy said.
According to the young entrepreneurs, the MTA police explained that this controversy was not a result of vending poor products or impolite service.
“People really like us,“ claimed Sackman, who explained that their business is doing even better this summer than last.
“We understand MTA, but it’s disappointing that local kids can’t just sell coffee to local people. We wish it were a more simple system,” said Maloy.
But as any commuter at the Philipse Manor station between the 6:38 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. trains in the morning can testify, this business has not thrown in the towel because of MTA’s regulations.
“Within fifteen minutes we already had a plan B,” said Maloy. The boys decided to move their stand off of MTA’s property and down into the parking lot on the river-side of the station. The business partners highlighted that their motto for this summer is, “We’re down, but we’re not out,” as is printed on a sign on the platform that points commuters down to the new location of the stand.
The young entrepreneurs stated that the experience with their small “café” has changed their attitude towards money and business.
“Business is hard work,” said Sackman. “You have to deal with struggles and different kinds of people. We’ve come up against a lot- like people shutting us down. But this has prepared us for the future.”
Maloy, who calls himself the C.O.O. of their business is off to Connecticut College and Sackman, who is titled “C.E.O.”, to Gettysburgh College, where they are both planning to study something business related.
“We’ve learned as much as we could from a coffee stand,” said Maloy. The young neighbors started the Philips Manor Café with their own money and are keeping track of their spending and profits using a Droid phone application called “EasyMoney”. They have focused more on advertising their business and are learning about the regulations and permits involved in creating a legitimate business. They hope that next summer they will be able to receive legal permission to run their stand, which they could neither financially afford nor wait for to process in their short summers before they are off to college. The boys even got their friend Matt Hammer, also a Sleepy Hollow High School Class of 2011 graduate who will attend Tulane University, involved as their publicist, who is in charge of helping the boys market their business and manage its reputation.
Hammer’s job includes sending out their “green business card” to anyone who asks for it, which is a text message with the Café’s information. The young team has made a sincere effort to be as professional as possible, to lay down good business habits that will help them in the future.
“Overall, we love doing it,” said Sackman. “ It gets us out of the house and it’s fun,” said Maloy.
The boys have really enjoyed conversing with their customers and developing relationships with them, as well as learning about partnership through their joint endeavors. The young entrepreneurs hope that they will not face any further conflict with MTA because as Maloy put it, “We’re not on their property. We’re not hurting anyone and people enjoy us and our coffee.”
The founders of Philips Manor Café are truly appreciating this experience before they head off to college. Maloy concluded, “It’s a good way to leave Sleepy Hollow.”
Philipse Manor Café Menu
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Dunkin Donuts Original Blend Coffee
Half Cup- $1.25
Full Cup (16 oz) - $1.75
Iced coffee- $1.75
Water Bottle- $1.00
Fruit and Nut Bar + Nature Valley Bar- $1.00