Despite the global pandemic and small fire that erupted this past July, Bushwick Bakery is experiencing business like never before. The local eatery’s recent customer boom has allowed it to extend its hours and add plated, made-to-order desserts, like crème brûlée, to its menu.
At the start of the pandemic, Bushwick Bakery owners Jean-Pierre Marquet and Steve Sciacca, who also own the local French bistro Mominette and Italian restaurant Pizzette, were hit hard. They were forced to temporarily close both Mominette and Pizzette. But they had different plans for Bushwick Bakery, which sits on the corner of Starr Street and Central Avenue.
Though many of Bushwick Bakery’s staff members left Brooklyn when COVID hit to find cheaper housing or to stay with family, there were enough people still interested in working that Marquet and Sciacca decided to keep the bakery open, Sciacca explained.
“There was kitchen staff that wanted to keep working, and my business partner … he wanted to keep working. And I wanted to keep the bakery open. So, I wound up as a barista, which I had never done before. I had a friend come train me, and I learned how to make all the espresso drinks,” Sciacca added.
Between managing the bakery through the darkest times of the pandemic and the reopening of Mominette and Pizzette, Sciacca claims he didn’t have a day off for a year-and-a-half straight.
“It really paid off, though, because we picked up a lot of regulars at the bakery,” said Sciacca. “By the time people began returning to work around June of last year, the bakery was already busier. It’s probably twice as busy now as it was back then just from getting the right staff in place and getting enough people to handle the traction,” continued Sciacca.
With the bakery’s consistent improvements, Sciacca thought it was time to make additions to the space. Bushwick Bakery now provides outdoor seating on its new porch that was built by a local handyman and the partner of one of the main staff members. However, during its construction, insulation material caught on fire after sparks, resultant from a grinder, made their way into a gap in the wall.
“I like to tell people that I have the hottest restaurants in Bushwick so one of them was bound to catch fire sooner or later,” joked Sciacca. “We had to close for a couple of days, but the damage to the building was minimal. We just had to fix the sheetrock.”
The quick reopening was to avoid losing the momentum the bakery was experiencing, continued Sciacca.
The installation of the porch indicated a new phase for Bushwick Bakery, which previously had limited seating. Since the bakery reopened from its brief close, there has been an increase in sales, and the bakery now offers plated desserts, which it serves during its extended weekend hours. The bakery now closes at 9 p.m. on weekends, not 5 p.m.
“That’s something I’m really excited about because that opens us up to new made-to-order desserts like crème brûlée, which you can’t do on a pastry case. I’m looking to expand to doing things like pavlovas, napoleons and cream puffs now that we have the space. We’re waiting for the later hours to get a little bit busier,” Sciacca shared.
Customers have also inquired about adding wine to the menu and Sciacca agreed to the possibility “down the road, once there’s a little more traction.”
Featured image: Allie Herrera
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