Two brooklyn entrepreneurs now offer their homemade baked goods to North Shore residents
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Robert Nuzzie
On a chilly Friday morning, Annette Bruno was in the kitchen of her Brooklyn café doing what she does best: Baking the deliciously infamous bread pudding that has put her smallish artisanal coffee shops on the map.
“Baking has always been my escape from the daily grind…something that I’ve always done to decompress,” the shop owner said while smudging flour and bits of organic chocolate onto her apron—taking a break from her morning bread-making session to chat. “There’s just something about creating something from a blend of fruits, nuts, and spices. She detailed, for example, that afternoon’s hunt for fresh banana chips and pineapple extract at Sahadi’s Mediterranean Market. “I just love to bring all of these wonderful ingredients back to my kitchen and see what happens. Gorgeous turmeric, paprika, a variety of nuts, and chocolate-covered everything. For me, it’s therapeutic, and the end result is something that makes people happy.”
It was just that foodie love of freshly baked deliciousness that pushed Bruno to leave her day job as an event planner with the American Civil Liberties Union three years ago to open Henry’s Local on Henry Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens.
“In addition to baking, I’ve also had a love for coffee,” Bruno said. “I come from a Latin background, so I essentially grew up with espresso in my baby bottle. We weren’t really looking for it, but when this space became available on Henry Street, my business partner and I knew we had to take a shot. It was a perfect location for local residents to grab great coffee and some seriously delicious baked goods.”
So, Bruno opened that first coffee shop with longtime friend, Veronica Silvestro.
“I guess you could say it was a leap of faith,” Bruno said. “We both gave up stable positions to start something that was relatively unknown. But we’re also very positive, independent people.”
The shop was a success, and her homemade Oreos and Twinkies became local legends. So, when Silvestro, a Staten Island resident, noticed a “for rent” sign in small shop on Van Duzer Street in Stapleton, where upscale waterfront communities like Urby and attractions like the Wheel are forging a North Shore renaissance, she pitched the location to Bruno.
“As soon as I looked at the space I saw the potential,” Bruno said. After several weeks of renovation, installing reclaimed wood flooring and a salvaged tin ceiling, Duzer’s Local was born.
“We opened on November 7, and have gotten a great reception from the community from the first day,” Bruno said. “The whole premise here was to provide a home away from home for Island residents, where they could work on their laptops, sip coffee, and do a little shopping while they’re at it. We wanted to offer products like milk, eggs, pasta, olive oil—organic, homemade, and/or hard to find anywhere else.”
It was also a great venue for Bruno to showcase her breads, pies, and cakes, and to sell lifestyle products like wooden cutting boards, dish towels, and old-world French presses. She also markets baked goods from Balthazar Bakery and Colson Patisserie, and Duzer’s Local also features a rental space where guests can host “wholesome pretty parties and events.”
“Catering is our next jump,” Bruno said. “But right now, customers are coming for the coffee, but staying for the sandwiches, and we’ve also seen demand for our organic milk and eggs. I love, too that our shoppers are buying loaves of bread and recreating our breakfasts at home. We’ve created a business here that is only going to grow and thrive.”
387 Van Duzer / 646.479.5965