The space at 2821 Thorndyke Ave. W. was previously a studio space for art classes. Photo by Joe Veyera
The space at 2821 Thorndyke Ave. W. was previously a studio space for art classes. Photo by Joe Veyera

A new coffee shop has opened its doors in Magnolia, and its owner is hoping to make the space a gathering spot in the community.

You might even call it a hub.

That’s what Graham Syed chose to do, in branding HUB Coffee at 2821 Thorndyke Ave. W.

“I want people to feel like they’re comfortable here,” he said.

Syed — a photographer by trade who also worked at a local nonprofit — found himself ready for a new challenge, and was intrigued by the location, which had previously been a studio space for art classes. The splashes of paint on the floor are a remnant of its past life, and a touch Syed decided to keep, liking the creative energy it brings.

“We found this place, and it was a perfect time, perfect opportunity, and we took it,” he said.

A Magnolia resident, Syed had become with familiar with the lack of coffee shops within walking distance of his home, and figured others had similar frustrations.

“You commute Monday through Friday,” he said. “Saturday or Sunday, you want to just walk.”

It took longer than he anticipated to get the café ready — an opening date sometime before Christmas was the initial goal — but he’s happy with the end result. Syed took a clean, minimalist approach to outfitting the space, with the intention of making it a home away from home for customers. It’s something he hasn’t seen elsewhere in the neighborhood.

“We live with the same philosophy in our house,” he said. “You have things that you need, that’s it. The same idea is here. We need tables, chairs, [but] I don’t want to have a lot of knickknacks. Just simple, yet meaningful.”

That’s done with the hope of creating a setting that fosters conversation and the exchange of ideas.

“Everybody has a story to tell,” he said. “And if you let them open your heart without judgment, they will tell you a story.”

But the atmosphere isn’t all that Syed believes sets his spot apart. He’s also focused on serving high quality coffee — “It’s simple, it’s natural, it’s earthy,” he said — and loose-leaf tea, and called customer service, “very essential,” to making people truly feel like they belong.

It’s the little things where Syed thinks his shop makes its mark, driven by more than just the bottom line.

“We are a business trying to survive and make money and take care of our family, but it is beyond just making money,” he said.

The shop isn’t Syed’s first foray into coffee, either. While attending school in Boston, he opened and managed a stand that he would operate in-between classes, one he found was still operating when he visited the city several years ago.

“I always felt very proud,” he said. “I had an idea, and I calculated and executed it, and it came out very well.”

That’s the kind of mindset now fueling his new effort. There are signs that the community spot he’s trying to build is already paying dividends, he said, noting a recent bustling Saturday.

“People were here and neighbors were bumping into neighbors, and that was the whole idea,” he said.

HUB Coffee is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit