Hoboken couple Jeff and Jessica Dyer are working to open a small coffee shop in the center of town that will have a big distinction: It will be among only a few nut-free eateries in New Jersey, a godsend for parents of children (or anyone) with nut allergies.
The shop, called Joey No Nuts, will also be vegetarian, as well as vegan friendly. It will bring new life to the former Maroon Coffee location at Seventh Street and Willow Avenue. Maroon closed permanently in July of 2018 after a fire.
Jeff and Jessica met years ago while working at Empire Coffee on Fourth Street, and talked about opening their own shop. They saw an opportunity to rent the space this summer and jumped on it.
Because their four-year-old daughter has nut allergies, they are keeping their beverages and foods nut-free and will also serve packaged goods that are free of other allergens.
Many coffee shops offer almond milk in their drinks. Parents who’d like to buy their child milk or hot chocolate in a cafe must weigh the risk of cross-contamination. But not at Joey No Nuts.
“So many people are excited about it,” said Jessica, who’s been posting about the shop on social media in hopes of opening later this month, “because it’s nut-free, and also just having another coffee shop in town. We’ve gotten a lot of love and support so far.”
Jessica’s grandmother was born and raised at Ninth Street and Willow Avenue, and she grew up in Jersey City Heights. She and Jeff have a five-month-old son in addition to their daughter.
Both are involved in the creative arts — Jeff is a musician and artist and Jessica has worked in higher education and published creative nonfiction. Jeff has also managed coffee shops in Hoboken and Jersey City. They hope to bring their love of the arts to the cafe as much as their love of coffee.
“I just want it to be a nice home away from home,” Jessica said, “a place for people to come and enjoy their coffee. We may have children’s programs someday, like storytime. We’re open to ideas. We want this to be a community place.”
She said besides coffee and tea drinks, she hopes to offer sandwiches, wraps, soup, oatmeal, and perhaps waffles on weekends.
Some goods will be free of other common allergens. The federal Food and Drug Administration lists the eight most common food allergies as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Food allergies result in 30,000 emergency room visits each year.
“For me, I just wanted it to be a safe space for her,” Jessica said, about her daughter. “She doesn’t have anywhere to go in town that’s safe. It’s very personal for us. We realized a lot of families have that issue.”
Only a few bakeries and coffee shops in the state make a point of offering nut-free products. Mo’Pweeze Bakery in Denville goes as far as offering foods that are free of dairy, eggs, peanuts, gluten, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame, and mustard, and even has an attached playroom for kids to enjoy, but it’s an hour away from Hoboken.
Jessica acknowledged that with two children under five, opening a shop is “a lot to take on,” but she didn’t want to miss the opportunity. She also wanted to be closer to home with a young son. “We kind of left it to fate to help us out,” she said.
She is already thinking of their next venture — perhaps a coffee shop in Jersey City Heights that has a small area for childcare, so parents can take a beverage break without tending to their youngsters at every moment. (Restaurants with childcare do exist in the Garden State, but are even rarer than nut-free coffee shops.)
What of the name Joey No Nuts? Jessica said the shop isn’t named after anyone in particular but takes after shops in town that sound like nicknames of characters: Tony Baloney, Johnny Pepperoni.
“We want to bring a lot of creativity to our space, our business, and our community,” Jessica said.
Joey No Nuts will be located at 638 Willow Avenue in Hoboken.