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When Arsalan Pourmand, an aspiring architect, turned his San Francisco-based cold-brew company into a specialty coffee shop based in Farmingdale, New York, last February, he had barely $70 in his bank account. Eleven months later, the urban-industrial shop’s transformative atmosphere attracts a loyal and diverse customer base.

Once the grounds of a Chinese-Italian gang affair, the storefronts and doors of Bowery are crammed together in a wall of reds and greens. Jerry Wong first turns toward a storefront. He buys grapes, greets the grocer as he weighs…

The dark room bathed in pools of blue, green and red lights adds an ambience that can be instantly related to an indie music venue; posters of past performances line one side of the mirrored walls, with an unclaimed section…

There is a circle of 10 empty chairs in the center of the room. Rows of fluorescent lights glow brightly from the ceiling, waiting for something to move beneath them. A few minutes before 4 p.m., a woman and a…