Claire Chan is a Boss Babe with an eye for beauty. A long time lover of both food and fashion, she moved from her hometown of Vancouver, Canada to NYC with a dream to open a place that fused her two favorite things – a place both beautiful and delicious. And like any true Boss Babe she fearlessly went for it, and her dreams came to life with The Elk – a gem of a coffee shop in the West Village.
Be warned. The Elk is the sort of place you walk into and might never leave. The food is outrageous (prepared by actual Top Chef, Sam Talbot), the atmosphere is warm (even in the depths of winter), and it’s obvious that tons of thought and love went into every single detail. And it did, thanks to our girl Claire. Every day she opens up The Elk’s doors to friends, regulars, newcomers, and passers-by, and last week she invited us in for coffee and a zucchini toast to talk dreams, Netflix, and of course Elks.
San Francisco, but moved to Vancouver, BC as a baby
An ELK, of course!
Currently feeling ______:
Dream vacation destination:
Anywhere the sun is shining, the waves are fun, and the food is delicious!
Morning coffee order:
Trickiest coffee drink to make:
Pulling an espresso shot is actually really challenging to do, because it’s a constant work in progress. Without getting too technical – there are a ton of dependents in creating a well-balanced espresso shot, and they change daily (if not hourly sometimes). Since espresso is the canvas for the majority of the drinks we make, it’s super important to get right.
What are you most excited to wear this spring?
After the winter we just had in NYC, I am most excited to store my winter boots away and not have to double up on socks. Not a cute look! I am so ready to bust out some open-toed shoes and a crop top.
Where are you most excited to dine outside this spring?
Bicycle picnics by the Hudson River
Beauty product you can’t live without:
A lip balm of choice. And Sea Salt Spray (I’m obsessed)
Guilty pleasure to binge watch on Netflix:
I discovered Breaking Bad late in the game… not so guilty though, what a crazy amazing show!
Best way to unwind after a long day:
It would definitely involve sweat pants, a bottle of wine, and some chill tunes.
Where did the name “The Elk” come from?
When I began thinking of names for the shop, I knew I wanted something reminiscent of where I grew up (British Columbia). I truly miss the natural outdoors that I grew up having at my doorstep. Among the stunning mountains and forests of BC, there’s also a ton of amazing wildlife – some of the most popular being Elk. I think they are such cool, majestic creatures. I tried it on for size as a name and from there, it kind of just stuck.
What do you miss most about the Pacific Northwest?
The space, the air, and the wild.
What is it about New York that keeps you here?
I’m addicted to this place and I have learned a lot about myself from living here. This city and the people I’ve met have given me the courage to take chances, like opening up the Elk. New York is not the easiest place to live – but on days when everything is going your way it feels like the city lifts you up and it all becomes worth it.
Did you always know you wanted to open a coffee shop?
Not always. I used to work in fashion, and I have always been drawn to great design and quality. I also have a deep love for food culture. So when I started to dream up plans for THE ELK I knew I wanted to merge these passions and create something unique and personal.
What’s the difference, do you think, between coffee shops in NYC versus in the Pacific Northwest?
The merging of art, culture, and food that is happening in NYC coffee shops is something I find very special and cool.
What’s next? For your career and for The Elk?
Only time will tell! But I would love to see more Elk love out there, and I just hope to keep growing and learning.
Favorite coffee shops in the city besides The Elk:
Best meal you’ve had in NYC since the start of 2015:
At Balvanera. Pairing their delicious skirt steak with a Mendoza Malbec – so perfectly indulgent!
The Elk is located at 128 Charles Street. You can keep up with their insta here