Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga are both self-taught chefs. They’ve only officially begun their wholesale baked goods company, Ovenly, one and a half years ago. But the demand and reputation for what they’ve been making has grown such that, this Friday, they are opening their own brick-and-mortar bakery cafe in Greenpoint.
“We would get emails from all sorts of people saying how our scones changed their life,” gushed Kulaga, a silky-haired 33-year-old. “So we wanted a place where we could meet people and serve as a home for the company.”
She and Patinkin, 32, met roughly three years ago, at a foodie book club meeting held in someone’s apartment. They both had full-time jobs outside of the food industry, but a passion for cooking, and began discussing after their first ever meeting ideas for starting a food business of some type. But they weren’t sure what. After one year the pair hit gold with their business plan: to make tasty bar snacks to sell at nearby drinking holes in their neighborhood of Greenpoint. So rather than dole out bags of stale chips or put out peanuts for customers, Veronica’s People Club, Ovenly’s first wholesale client, began selling their spicy bacon caramel corn, or chocolate truffle and maldon sea salt cookies. A new era of bar snacking was born for Brooklyn. But their innovations didn’t stop there.
“We try to add a savory element to every sweet we make, so nothing is overly sweet,” said Kulaga of their baked goods. Their Stumptown coffee ground-infused, buttery shortbread is one of the newer examples of that. Standing outside the cardboard-blocked windows of their soon-to-be retail cafe on Greenpoint Ave., the two described their upcoming menu for the shop. Rather than sell the same snacks and sweets they’ve done wholesale, it would be focused on things that were either new or that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Some to look out for include a “Bloody Mary scone” with a celery stick stabbed in it, and their take on the Brooklyn blackout cake, using Brooklyn Brewery’s stout. They also plan to serve “breakfast boxes” with combinations with the likes of a scone or biscuit, coffee, and a hard-boiled egg.
Ovenly, the cafe, is set to officially open on Friday, May 25, with a soft opening the day before. Carpenters were hard at work creating the counters when I visited last week, and the store’s interior designer, Brady Dollarhide, popped by to discuss the showpiece glass display case he was working on. A vibrant blue chandelier designed by Haselgrave Home was already installed, and just behind the small, seated area of the cafe was a full, industrial kitchen where a team of cooks were busy producing caramel corn and other snacks for Ovenly’s ongoing wholesale production. Patinkin, dressed in paint-splattered overalls, and Kulaga both gaped when I commented on how quickly their business has risen.
“Really? It seems like we’ve been doing this forever!” Kulaga said, exhausted.
For a patch of Greenpoint with no real coffee shop to speak of currently (nearby Brooklyn Label on Franklin Street has coffee and snacks to go, but within a full-service restaurant), Ovenly’s shop is primed to sate the locals’ tastebuds for something on the run. Just not with too much sweetness, and a twist.
Ovenly’s retail shop opens Friday, May 25, at 31 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn