Wantagh Gets New Homegrown Coffee Hub

Michael Santo, 33, owner of the newly opened Pipeline Coffee Co., said his obsession with coffee started nearly a decade ago.

“Whenever I go on vacation, I have to scout out where I’m going to get my coffee every day,” he said with a laugh. “Also, while I was in therapy school, I spent so much time studying in coffee shops.”

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The Rockville Centre native already owned a physical therapist practice in his hometown, but always had a passion for the food services industry—and caffeine, of course. “I finally realized this is what I needed to do,” he said.

But he couldn’t do it alone. In 2015, Santo approached his longtime friend, Patrick Tighe, 28, also of Rockville Centre, who was working as a bartender in South Hempstead. The two grew up together playing youth sports and remained close throughout the years. It didn’t take much convincing for Tighe to jump on board. Their vision came to life three years later when the coffee shop opened on April 15.

The road to opening wasn’t quick. Santo and Tighe put together a detailed business plan, scoped out a desirable space and spent much time researching. “We visited almost every coffee shop on the South Shore of Long Island to figure out what we liked and what we didn’t like,” Santo said.

Their professional experiences also helped get the ball rolling. “[Michael] has the business background and I have the deli, bar, dining, front of the house type stuff background, as well as construction. We literally built this from the ground up,” Tighe said.

The duo initially dreamed of running their new café in Long Beach—with Tighe having roots in the community. Instead, they found a storefront in downtown Wantagh that fit their vision. Santo, who currently lives in the hamlet with his family, said it was the perfect spot and the “gateway to Jones Beach.”

“Part of our name and identity is in relation to the surfing community,” Santo said. “Although Long Beach didn’t end up working out, the name still stuck.”

They invested $150k into their new brand, constructing tables, chairs and even a coffee bar from biodegradable materials. Nearly 300 people attended the grand opening to try signature menu items, such as The Third Rail, a mixture of espresso and lemonade, and the chorizo breakfast burrito. Other specialty items include maple bourbon bacon muffins, berry hibiscus and lemon earl grey kombucha, lavender iced tea lemonade and basil infused buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwiches.

Another plus: 90 percent of what Pipeline Coffee Co. offers is organic, including the tea, kombucha and some espresso, while all ingredients are sourced from Long Island.

With six people on staff, including Wantagh chef Anthony Mazzella, and some local support, Pipeline Coffee Co. hopes to become a permanent staple in the community and eventually expand to include a sister café. This summer, the duo also plans to construct a garden in their back patio to produce different herbs, such as lavender and mint, for lattes and teas.

“Coffee grinds make for excellent compost,” Santo quipped.

Pipeline Coffee Co. is located at 1887 Wantagh Ave in Wantagh.