“Do you have oat milk?”
When Ioannis Blentzas, better known to friends as Yanni, a former sports marketing executive left his job of 17 years, he never thought he’d hear the phrase so many times in a day.
At his former corporate job, an advertising sales service called PSP Sports, Blentzas was dealing with unexpected anxiety. Since launching his own dream business, it has all but evaporated. Blentzas is now the proud owner and founder of newly launched coffee shop Yanni’s Coffee on 16th Street and 7th Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.
Born into a big Greek family of immigrants, Blentzas grew up in Queens. His mother and father came to New York with nothing, started a furrier business (just a few blocks up the very same street from Yanni’s Coffee) and ran a successful business for 35 years. “I’m me because of them,” Blentzas says. His Grecian roots inspired his desire to create the perfect cup of coffee. He’d travel to visit family-owned beach cafes in Greece every summer, sipping espresso by the sea. “You feel a part of something. My goal was to have a cool coffee shop, keep it simple, be friendly and nice and offer that Greek hospitality.”