Good lookin’ Bedford-Stuyvesant is cookin’ up an economic storm, thanks to innovative entrepreneurs such as boutique baker Myriam Nicolas.
The small business owner opened Brooklyn Baby Cakes on Nostrand Avenue between Macon and Halsey streets in 2012, a decade after buying a home in the brownstone community — then a blighted blip on the radar, despite being a short train ride away from downtown Manhattan.
“If you moved to Bedford-Styuvesant you were some sort of a pioneer,” she says. “It was a neighborhood people were skeptical about.”
Nicolas and her husband were early visionaries who looked past the crime.
“We weren’t focused on what was happening around the corner,” she says. “At the end of the day these were beautiful homes, and we just focused on that.”
Her bakery — a warm, child-friendly place where people can come in, sit down, relax, and enjoy a fresh-baked dessert and a cup of coffee — is the icing on the cake. Nicolas had virtually no baking experience when she began concocting cupcakes and treats for family and friends in an experiment that became a passion. Her sweets were so scrumptious that they persuaded her to open a bakery, which the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District launched to the community with a mixer.
“The support was nice,” says Nicolas, whose business is a hit with tourists flocking to the local bed-and-breakfasts for an affordable stay in a fast-growing community in the city’s fastest growing borough.
Her cake creations are all baked on-site, with a different flavor featured each month — November is pumpkin and December is eggnog. The menu bursts with signature velvet cupcakes and luscious specialties such as Hummingbird, a spiced medley with crushed pineapple, bananas, and walnuts topped with vanilla frosting. Maple Pecan, a maple buttercream dainty crafted with candied pecans, cinnamon, and Madagascar bourbon, is among the ambrosial seasonals drawing customers back for more.
Once-forsaken Bedford-Styuvesant is leaping into the commercial big leagues and small businesses are refueling it with local dollars. Community residents, notes Nicolas, can walk out of their homes, walk down the street, and shop without having to get in their car or hop on a train, in a break with the past.
“New and exciting things are definitely happening here,” she says.
Brooklyn Baby Cakes [506 Nostrand Ave. between Macon and Halsey streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (718) 484–8466, brooklynbabycakes.com] Monday through Saturday, 10 am–8 pm; Sunday, noon–6 pm.