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A new coffee shop encourages vintage travel and community.

A new coffee shop encourages vintage travel and community.

New coffee shop inspires vintage traveling, community environment
Flight Crew, a themed coffeeshop, opened recently in Manhattan. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sound of an espresso machine buzzing and people mingling with friends over a cup of joe greet you as you walk into Manhattan’s newest coffee shop, Flight Crew.

However, this is not your ordinary coffee shop: wall décor of planes, vintage stewardesses and a menu board that looks as if you should be searching for your flight terminal showcase the aviation theme throughout the eatery.

“I love all things vintage, I love the 40s and 50s and I love traveling,” Heather Hnizdil, owner of Flight Crew, said. “I feel like there’s that wanderlust thing about flying that used to be much more like, ‘Ooh, flying,’ and you dress up to fly, but that’s not there anymore — people wear pajamas [to fly].”

(Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)
(Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

After Hnizdil graduated with a degree from Kansas State in printmaking, she went on a trip to Taiwan as a graphic designer for a jazz group. She invented the name Flight Crew, but she ended up using it.

“When I decided to name my coffee shop Flight Crew, all these ideas came,” Hnizdil said. “I could do this, this could be called this, and it just snowballed.”

Hnizdil said she wasn’t sure what the next step in her career path should be after her time abroad. Hnizdil made Manhattan her home again after some encouragement from her sisters.

“You just live once, you know, and you might as well risk,” Hnizdil said. “I thought, ‘Let’s see what goes into it,’ and once I decided I’m going to do this, it went really fast. I started the process in Loveland Colorado, but one my sisters works at K-State. I visited July to see if there was a space. So, I just called to see what the difference in rent between here and there, and the more I thought about it, I thought I would love to be in Manhattan again.”

Hnizdil says that Flight Crew is a new business that opened in October. However, she said that she has already established a strong community of customers, staff, and volunteers who bring life to the shop.

“Because I’m there all the time, I feel like we’ve been open longer than we have, so it keeps surprising me when daily, every second or third customer says they’ve never been here before,” Hnizdil said. “I’ve enjoyed being back in the community and meeting other business owners on the street. The best part of a coffee shop is it’s a friendly place. I’ve become friends with a lot of customers, and I feel like they’ve become friends with myself and my staff: it’s like building a family.”

Hannah Peters, a regular customer at Manhattan’s coffee shops, stated that she found a new favorite spot after visiting Fight Crew.

“Coffee shops are my go-to place to study or meet up with friends, and I love all of the places here in Manhattan,” Peters said. “When I heard that there was a new one opening, I was excited to try it out. It’s such a unique decor that really sets it apart from others. I feel like I’m in a fancy airport ready to board when I’m in there. It’s also nice to see Manhattan’s small-business crowd growing.”

(Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)
Collegian Media Group| Collegian Media Group)

Flight Crew offers a variety of beverages and foods, all named to fit the theme, like the “Aviator,” which is coconut milk and mocha, or the “International,” their almond milk and hazelnut espresso. All of their food items are made by Little Batch Bakery, as the shop doesn’t have its own oven set up yet.

“The chestnut praline is my favorite drink,” Peters said. “I tried it over the holidays, and it was a great flavor for Christmas time on a cold day. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.”

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It is a challenging task to choose the right recipes for seasonal drinks. Hnizdil stated that her past experience has helped her in these tasks.

“For drinks, I worked in coffee shops for years and thought, ‘What are the things that I love,’ and I feel there have to be more people like me that love these too,” Hnizdil said. “As we’ve gone along, I ask my baristas what they’d like to try. Our seasonal drinks are definitely a collaboration of everyone behind the bar: we order a couple flavors and see what we think, what does it pair well with.”

The coffee shop also hosts special events. Flight Crew hosts a live music event every Friday and Saturday night.

“We’re always looking for people who would like an opportunity to perform,” Hnizdil said. “It doesn’t have to be singing. I love the cello, and Feb. 5 we’re having an accordion player, so that’s fun. I wanted somewhere on a Friday or Saturday night to go that wasn’t the bar scene.”

Flight Crew is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is located at 423 Poyntz Ave. More information is available on the business’s Instagram page @flightcrewcoffee.

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