KookaBurra Coffee Company sets its sights on Malverne


Michael Del Gatto was going about his business running the KookaBurra Coffee Company in Rockville Centre, when Malverne Mayor Patti McDonald stopped in for coffee and muffins — and made a request. “She asked, ‘Why don’t you come to Malverne?’” Del Gatto recalled, “but I was actually thinking about opening another location in Long Beach.”

After repeated visits from McDonald, Del Gatto looked at some Malverne locations and fell in love with the village’s quaintness. “It’s a community-based town, and I believe the mix of stores that’s already there will be great for us,” he said, noting some recent business openings on Hempstead Avenue and the excitement surrounding the Fitness 19 gym, tentatively scheduled to launch in March.

Now, with a signed 10-year lease for the storefront next to Marcucc For Hair on Hempstead Avenue, Del Gatto wants to transform the 900-square-foot space into the village’s only coffee bar. “I’d like to give people a place to gather in the morning, be a place for commuters before they go to Manhattan — to be part of the community,” he said.

The location will offer seating for at least 20, with tables for two or four as well as a community table. The shop will also have an L-shaped coffee bar and an espresso bar. The Malverne location will sell muffins and pastries that are baked on the premises, and a wide array of coffees from Brazil, Columbia, Central America, Africa and Indonesia. “They’ll only be available when in season,” said Del Gatto, adding that no coffee served at his shop is roasted more than five days prior to the day of purchase. Signature and specialty coffee drinks and a variety of teas will also be available. “As of now, there are no plans to have food, such as sandwiches and salads, but you never know,” he said. “That could change.”

Once the necessary paperwork is submitted to the village, which Del Gatto expects will happen shortly, he will meet with the board of trustees to get approval for a food service operation. “Every town has a process you have to follow, but the village did call me just yesterday to offer their help,” he said. “‘How can we help you get everything done?’ they asked me.”

After the Malverne location is open, Del Gatto’s son Christopher will run it while his father starts a wholesale coffee business. Del Gatto is also a sales director for La Marzocco coffee machines and grinders.

He grew up in Lynbrook, now lives in Baldwin, and said he lived briefly in an apartment on Church Street in Malverne, above what is currently the Scoops ice cream shop.

The Rockville Centre location has been in business for 10 years, and has become a staple in the community. “I’m a very fortunate and lucky person because I get to like my job,” Del Gatto said. “I don’t think I’ve taken a real vacation in five years. I just love the people that come into the store. It’s like being part of a group.”