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Becoming a Founder

The Founder’s Guide to NYC

We’ve compiled a bunch of hot spots and insider tips on navigating New York City as a founder. Read on for a ton of Big Apple resources for entrepreneurs.

Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj
Apr 24, 20237 minutes
Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj

Keertana Anandraj is a part-time freelance writer and full-time sustainability analyst. Before Justworks, she began her freelance career writing for The Financial Diet and Career Contessa. She currently resides in New York City.

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Much like someone who’s just started a business, New York City never sleeps. No matter what time of day (or night) it is, you can probably find whatever it is that you desperately need in any given moment. But with more commuters and concrete than practically any other city, the Big Apple can be tough to navigate (even if you’re a “real New Yorker”).

Sure, this non-stop city is chock full of everything you could possibly want. But when you’re a founder on the go, how do you actually find the things you need in NYC? That’s where we come in. It’s never easy to find your footing while starting a new business, and it can be particularly difficult in a metropolis that offers every option (and plenty of opinions on which is the best one). Here, we’ve made it easier for you by compiling a ton of hidden gems and unexpected resources for all the founders hustling in New York City.

A quick note: Things move fast in NYC. Like, really fast. With this in mind, you may find that some of these hidden gems and resources disappear like a free couch on the curb in the Village. When possible, check with the business or location to verify said gems and resources are still available.

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Free (or Worth-the-cost) WiFi

Coffee shops are often the go-to for accessing reliable WiFi in most cities, including New York. But did you know that even your fire escape can be a stellar source of WiFi in NYC? Expand your options for accessing quality internet with this list.

  • Parks. Did you know that most NYC parks offer free WiFi? Check out this site to find the greenest WiFi hot spots near you.

  • Hotels. Many NYC hotels have vibe-filled lobbies, bars, and dedicated spaces for working folks. Try out The Public HotelThe Ace HotelThe Standard in the West Village, The Ned NoMad, and The Marlton.

  • Chelsea Market. Primarily a food hall with a handful of fun stores scattered throughout, Chelsea Market is a surprisingly great place to plug in. With free WiFi and convenient tables placed throughout the venue, you can easily hop on a Zoom call or send out a few emails. Want a few more food halls to try? Visit Le District in Brookfield PlaceEssex MarketThe Hugh, and Jacx & Co in Queens.

  • Museums. Ever wanted to spend your lunch break at a museum but didn’t have the time? Well, if the museum is your office, you can! Get the most from your Metropolitan Museum of Art ticket (and the free WiFi it provides) by scheduling your visit for a day with later hours so you can explore the museum after you’re done working. At the Museum of Modern Art, you can smell the roses while you work with their garden WiFi.

  • All the New York Public Library branches. With a ton of branches scattered throughout the boroughs and large rooms for quiet, focused work, this is a perfect place to get some work done. Check here to find a branch near you.

  • Diners. Why not head to a good, old-fashioned diner? They usually have large tables, even larger menus, and endless coffee if you’re lucky. As long as you order something to nibble every so often (and tip your server well), try some of our favorites: Utopia DinerGracie Mews Diner, and Remedy Diner.

  • Coffee shops. We can’t not mention some of the best coffee shops to work out of in NYC. Starbucks is an obvious option with its multitude of outlets and reliable caffeine choices, but FreeholdThink CoffeeThe Daily Press, and Copper Mug are some great options too.

Co-working Spaces for Every Mood

Need a space to catch up on emails while you’re in town? Looking for a spot you can frequent whenever inspiration hits? While coffee shops and other public spaces can work in a pinch, a co-working space provides a place you can focus. Plus, there’s the added bonus of connecting with other founders or players in the space.

  • Feeling artsy? NeueHouse attracts artists of all kinds with a location in Madison Square and more across the country (and was a favorite of Pilot Founder and CEO, Ben Brooks back in the day). You can also try The Farm, a space created for designers, entrepreneurs, developers, and artists with locations in SoHo and NoMad. There’s also Cubico for creatives who want to be on Broadway.

  • Building community? Bat Haus has an Instagram-famous location in Brooklyn with weekend programming to help foster community. Over in Flatiron, Spaces is a great spot to meet freelancers who might be great to collaborate with.

  • Seeking balance? There’s The Yard, for those who want a quieter neighborhood location in the Upper West Side. Primary is a coworking space with wellness breaks for employees to practice yoga or simply prioritize their health and well-being. And Greendesk offers an eco-friendly option with locations in Brooklyn and Long Island.

  • Got FOMO? Jay Suites is perfect for those who want to feel that Wall Street energy. WeWork, undoubtedly one of the most well-known options, can also be a hot spot for feeling that start-up excitement.

  • In a hurry? Plenty of spaces are located in more central areas like Midtown, so they’re easier (and maybe quicker) to get to from wherever you are. Try EnsembleWorkHouse, and NomadWorks for commuter-friendly options.

Emergency Bathrooms for Emergency Moments

We’ve all been there — when you need a bathroom, and you need it now. Here’s a few options for when your hotel is miles away and you’re like a deer in headlights. If you can’t make it to any of these spots, try dashing into the nearest bodega and begging the guy at the counter to let you use theirs — it’s been known to happen.

  • Bryant Park’s public bathrooms. Not every public bathroom in NYC is an option (just take our word for it). But this park’s restrooms were recently renovated and happen to be on a few different lists, so we’d say this one’s worth a shot. Bonus option: Battery Park’s Castle Clinton has bathrooms maintained by the government, so odds are they’ll be pretty clean, too.

  • Grand Central. Among this landmark’s multiple restaurants, trains, and the gorgeous ceiling mural, you’ll find busy-but-clean restrooms here to jump in and out of.

  • Barnes & Noble. With decent hours and a few locations sprinkled across the city, this bookstore chain provides conversation-free relief when you need it. Top locations include Union SquareUpper West Side, and Midtown. Pro-tip: New York Public Libraries are another book-ish bathroom hack.

  • Hotel chains. Most of the time, you can breeze through the lobby and head to the bathrooms that are usually found on the first floor. Successful drop-ins have been made at the Wyndham Garden Chinatown, the Marriott Marquis Hotel, and the Downtown Hilton DoubleTree.

  • Department storesBloomingdale’s and Macy’s are both solid options, but Bergdorf Goodman has probably one of the swankiest bathrooms you’ll ever visit.

  • Lincoln Center. Even if you’re not seeing a show, you can sneak into this entertainment legend for a quick, clean pitstop.

  • Shopping centers. You wouldn’t think so, but malls are still kind of a thing in NYC. They’re smaller than the typical suburban mall, but hey — they still have bathrooms. Some of the best can be found at The Shops at Columbus CircleEast River PlazaBrookfield PlaceThe Oculus, and Hudson Yards.

Set the Scene for a Phenomenal Meeting

There’s no shortage of restaurants in NYC, that’s for sure. But talk about options paralysis! It can be tough to choose a spot that’s perfect for the situation. We’ve got your back, though, with this list of locales that are sure to impress anyone.

  • Wining and dining a potential customer or investor? Something on the fancier end may be a good choice. Try a classic and respected spot like Harry’s Cafe, somewhere slick but relatable like Union Square Cafe, a place with an impressive main course like Hwa Yuan, or an inconspicuous gem like Comodo.

  • Catching up with other founders? That doesn’t mean you have to skip the good stuff. Kashkaval Garden has a great fondue deal that’ll cover a few of you, Geido’s got budget-friendly everything, and Heidelburg Restaurant has big ol’ pretzels to bond over.

  • Celebrating with your team? While you don’t have to go to the most expensive spot in the city, this occasion still calls for some fun. Motel MorrisHometown Bar-B-Que, and Gunbae are all fun options.

  • Looking for something private? Snag a secluded spot for your group at Canary ClubKimikaCafé China, or Charlie Bird.

Happy Hour Spots You’ll Leave Happy

A client dinner is nice, but what if you’re not at that level yet? Well, there are no shortage of excellent happy hour spots in NYC to meet people more casually.

  • In a vintage mood? Visit one of the city’s oldest (or oldest-looking) establishments for your cheap drinks — Bar BellyDante, and The Rum House are all good options.

  • Seeking something chic? Stay hip without breaking the bank by trying these upper-scale bars during happy hour. Right now, L’AccoladeBibi Wine BarSereneco, and Entwine are fire (according to New Yorkers, anyway).

  • Need noms with your Jägerbombs? The Mermaid Inn includes oysters in their HH specials, Lido Harlem offers meatballs and garlic bread, A10 Kitchen serves up mac and cheese, and The Gray Mare’s got all the basics (read: sweet potato tots and truffle fries) to soak up the bevs.

  • Ready to take a dive? New York’s got more than enough dive bars to help you wet your whistle. Get some great deals at 169 Bar, Williamsburg’s Skinny Dennis, and Brooklyn Public House.

  • Do rooftops send you? While there’s plenty of rooftop bars, there’s only so many that are worth it. A few of our picks? The Ready Rooftop Bar boasts tons of plants and murals, East Hae in Williamsburg has amazing views, and Bella Union’s got $5 espresso martinis on Tuesdays.

  • Want an experience? Try Loreley Beer Garden for their seasonal events, Greenwich Village’s Groove for some real NYC funk and soul, Magic Hour for their circus vibes, and Pieces for their stellar drag performances.

Places to Cry

These days, we don’t need anything new to cry about. But if the ups and downs of being a founder are really getting to you, try these spots for letting it all out (without getting weird stares or concerned mom-types trying to talk to you).

  • Central Park. The sheer size of this park provides ample options for releasing your emotions. With countless walking and biking paths, plus hundreds of trees to hide behind, you’re sure to find somewhere to cry to your heart’s content. Battery Park is another option that overlooks the river at the tip of Manhattan, and gives great views while you weep into your handkerchief.

  • The subway. You might not think so, but New York’s subway cars are some of the best places to let it all out. It’s considered a New York tradition! Some say you’re not a “real” New Yorker until you’ve done it.

  • Times Square. While most New Yorkers avoid this place like the plague, there’s something comforting about being surrounded by so many lights, sounds, and people while tears stream down your face. If you want an illuminated emotional outpouring, take a stroll through this infamous attraction.

  • A random brownstone. Want to feel like you’re a character in a New York movie? Take a seat on any brownstone you come across and let the tears fall. Prime neighborhoods for picturesque spots include the Villagethe Upper West SideCarroll Gardens, and Park Slope.

  • The Staten Island FerryThis boat glides passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island for free all day long — and all night. Whether you’re crying by the light of the moon, or you need cover from the light of day as you cry, you can do so on this boat.

  • Cemeteries. If you’re not easily creeped out, cemeteries are some of the best locales to sob. For one, they already lend themselves to somber moods. For another, no one’s going to be confronting you in your melancholic state. Head to the historic landmark Green-Wood Cemetery, the Trinity Church on Wall Street, or one of the cemeteries surrounding Highland Park in Brooklyn.

Are you still with us? If so, we hope some of these suggestions work out for you — we’ll be coming out with even more, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out our other resources for founders via the Resource Center, the MWBE Resources page, and the For Founders, By Founders experience. And if you want help running your business with more confidence, get started today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Keertana Anandraj
Keertana Anandraj
Apr 24, 20237 minutes

Keertana Anandraj is a part-time freelance writer and full-time sustainability analyst. Before Justworks, she began her freelance career writing for The Financial Diet and Career Contessa. She currently resides in New York City.

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