David Sabatino, 26, co-owns Sip This, a popular coffeehouse in Valley Stream, with his longtime friend Stephanie Pontillo, who also grew up in the village.
While he was studying urban planning in graduate school at New York University, he founded Envision Valley Stream in May 2009, a community-based organization which aims to create a brighter future for the village.
Community affiliations: Member of the Valley Stream Civilian Patrol, vice president of the Valley Stream Democrat Club and secretary of Friends of Valley Stream Dog Park.
First off, tell me about yourself and your past accomplishments.
I graduated Kellenberg Memorial High School [in Uniondale] and went on to Marist College [in Poughkeepsie] and got an undergraduate degree in history. From there, I thought I was going to go into education, but I decided to go into urban planning. We opened Sip This in August 2011. From there, I focused on Sip This and staying active in the community. I recently got married on August 16 to my wife Sarah on the Village Green in Valley Stream.
What’s your secret in managing to handle running a business like this at such a young age?
Stephanie and I were very keen to involve people early on in what we were doing. A couple of days after we signed our lease, we started a Facebook page to start the conversation. Many people were a part of that story as it was unfolding. Immediately, people were excited to see it coming into their community by people from their community.
Where did you get the idea for the business?
When we [he and Pontillo] were in college, we would take road trips with our friends, and when we got to these places we would find ourselves in coffee shops and critiquing each one. It became a conversation on all our travels with our friends, and then one day we opened our own coffee shop. We wanted to create a very comfortable, inviting place for our community and customers.
Describe the atmosphere of Sip This. What’s was your inspiration for creating its look?
We were avid fans of The Cup [Coffeehouse in Wantagh] and Witches Brew [in West Hempstead], a dark, gothic, cool hangout place. The Cup was more like a lighthearted living room -- very relaxed environment. We asked ourselves, “Where would our coffee shop fit into that spectrum?” We wanted to make our place comfortable for a wide variety of people. We also wanted to connect the name to Slip Disc, a record store that was in business here for more than 20 years, to carry on its legacy.
Can you give me a rundown of events that are held at Sip This?
The most popular event we have is BYOV, Bring Your Own Vinyl, on the first Friday of every month. People bring their own vinyl and our DJ puts it into the mix. It becomes a listening party. We have a poetry group that meets here. We have trivia nights and open mic nights, book clubs and a knitting group that meets here.
On another note, tell me about the organization you founded, Envision Valley Stream.
Everything that makes up a community, you want in an envision plan. We work with the people in our community, businesses and local government to get our ideas accomplished by holding meetings and collecting ideas and feedback. While we’re doing that, we’ve held graffiti and park cleanups and an annual Art in the Park event, displaying high school artwork.
Above: David Sabatino, 26, co-owner of Sip This in Valley Stream, and his wife, Sarah, 27. (Oct. 13, 2012)