Tag Archives: Norma’s

Ridgewood coffee shop gives a helping hand to local artists

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata


It is not easy for local artists to get their names heard but Norma’s, a coffee shop in Ridgewood, is doing everything they can to help.

Denise Plowman and Crystal Williams started their “support local art” initiative in their coffee shop after they opened on Catalpa Avenue two years ago.

They allow the artists to promote their work, free of charge, and then give the proceeds from the sales to the artists—without taking a cut.

“It was our dream to open up Norma’s,” Plowman said. “This gives us an opportunity to help other locals’ dreams come true.”

The shop’s walls and furniture is filled with all types of creative works, ranging from jewelry, books, greeting cards and paintings to handcrafted pins and miniature aprons.

Currently, the store holds the work of about 12 different locals. Sarah Feldman, the first designer showcased in Norma’s, said the store helped to rejuvenate her jewelry business.

“I stopped making jewelry for a while but decided to set up some of my work in Norma’s when [Plowman and Williams] asked me to,” said Feldman, who now operates the jewelry website princepeacock.com. “It got me so motivated once I heard my stuff was selling. It’s a great feeling to have people come up to you in the neighborhood and say, ‘Wow, you’re the jewelry girl!’”

Plowman said more and more artists have asked to display their work just from hearing about her store’s campaign through word of mouth. She said the art has been flying off the walls and that she always gets comments about how great the pieces are.

“There’s a lot of creative people in this neighborhood but not a lot of exposure for them,” Plowman said. “I think it’s important to do this to help them grow.”





Ridgewood coffee shop owners to open second business with beer and wine license

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz


Coffee isn’t the only buzzworthy drink the owners of Norma’s café want to offer their customers.

Crystal Williams and Denise Plowman, owners of the Ridgewood coffee shop, have been trying to get a beer and wine license for several months now. But due to Department of Building restrictions and Norma’s small size, they weren’t approved.

But instead of merely accepting the rejection, they are creating a new business entity that they hope will increase their chances for approval.

Even though the license has yet to be voted on, Williams and Plowman have rented out space on Woodward Avenue for their new venture, to be called Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar.

“So it’s a bit of a risk but this was a labor of love,” Williams said. “The neighborhood has been very supportive.”

Williams and Plowman submitted their plans to Community Board 5 and it is expected to be voted upon soon. If approved in that advisory vote, there will still be an “incredible amount of unromantic paperwork” that has to be done before the State Liquor Authority can grant the bar a beer and wine license, Williams said.

There is also a Kickstarter campaign for Julia’s, where Williams writes, “We feel like Ridgewood is missing a great beer and wine bar. We want to create the perfect date spot or a place to spend time with friends and feel spoiled. Our goal is to pick all of our favorite things about wine bars and leave out all the stuffy pretense.”

Taylor Clasper was working at Norma’s on a recent morning and told her co-worker Rin Wilhelmi, “I really want to work at the other place.”

Wilhelmi also wanted to work at Julia’s because she thought the tips would be good and “who wouldn’t want to work at a place that serves drinks?”

Facing the morning rush of people, Clasper considered all of the challenges facing the new business. She shrugged and said, “We’re the coffee shop that could.”