After a year and two months, Noella Brew Bar on Seventh Avenue is closing its doors for good this Sunday, March 3.
The owner Melissa Rapoport— who also owned Ozzie’s for 18 years before it closed in Aug. 2011— opened Noella between Berkeley and Lincoln places in Dec. 2011.
Rapoport built Noella up from the ground in four months after Ozzie’s was shuttered, but after little over a year, she felt it was time to say goodbye to the café business which she was worked in for two decades.
“It’s been a struggle for the past year—and I worked so hard with all the community events to make it work, but I felt like the universe was winding up and telling me its time to do something new,” Rapoport said.
Part of the struggle was because of the competition in a neighborhood known for its cafes and restaurants:
“There are so many cafes in Park Slope right now, and in order to make a good living I’d have to get a beer and wine license and that would mean I’d be working all the time,” Rapoport said. “I just came to the realization that my health, my kids and life outside of work is more important.”
But, the hardest part of closing her business it not losing her business, but rather leaving the community she has built.
“The hardest thing in all of this is my regular customers—it’s the same people in here everyday. That’s what made the decision so excruciating,” she explained. “I toyed with it for such a long time. I created Noella, and I was walking in everyday proud of what I made and the community that we have here.”
Her decision to close finally came to her after she took a recent trip to Europe.
Rapoport took a trip to Madrid to visit a girlfriend, who asked Rapoport to bring a certain book with her. However, after Rapoport arrived her friend fell ill and was unable to meet.
“I ended up being in Madrid alone for a week and all I had was this book. So, I decided to read the book and it illuminated so many questions for me,” Rapoport said.
“You’re going to laugh when you look it up, which is titled Finding Your North Star, but it helped me form my decisions and ask important questions,” she said.
For Rapoport, the book helped her find mental space, be aware of her feelings, and identify where those feelings were coming from.
“I was waking up anxious every single morning, trying to figure out what problems would arise and how I would solve them. It has been very difficult and I finally decided that it was time for me to make a change,” she said.
So now, she’s taking a yearlong certification course with the Institute for Innovative Nutrition and will then start a private practice once she gets through the exams to work with people to achieve health goals.
“I have been wanting to go back to school for a long time,” she said, explaining she already has a Masters in Developmental Psychology and was on track for a Ph.D. until “life got in the way.”
Instead of going back to school for five years, she decided to blend together her interest in health and education in psychology to become a health counselor.
And as Rapoport holds a third-degree black belt in karate, she will also be teaching street self-defense classes for women.
So, after starting Ozzie’s in 1993 and closing Noella in 2013, Rapoport is ready to say goodbye to a 20-year career as a small business owner in Park Slope.
“I am at peace with my decision. I wavered on it for sometime, and I am melancholy about it when I’m here. But that’s not a reason to maintain a business that’s not thriving. I am resolved,” she said.
And as the last days of Noella wind down, Rapoport looks out from her cafe’s window onto the avenue and gets a little nostalgic:
“I’ve been in Park Slope as a business owner for more than two decades. I’ve watched families grow. It’s like putting seeds in the ground and watching it grow to fruition,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I’m going to miss about being on Seventh Avenue everyday and the biggest part of that is the familiar faces.”
Noella Brew Bar’s last day is Sunday, March 3. Stop by the cafe on Seventh Avenue, between Berkeley and Lincoln places, and say goodbye! If you want to read Rapoport’s announcement of Noella’s closure and goodbye letter, check out their Facebook page.