The Hype Bakery Is Here to Stay (2024)

The Hype Bakery Is Here to Stay (1)

Pastries from Somedays in Astoria. Photo: Mike Chau

Pastries from Somedays in Astoria. Photo: Mike Chau

Late last month, with no marketing plan to speak of other than an Instagram grid filled with precisely latticed croissants, the Astoria bakery Somedays opened its doors for business. Three full hours before they were scheduled to close for the day, they’d sold out of their entire supply of black-sesame tahini croissants, chocolate-hazelnut-praline lattices, and pistachio chocolate-chunk cookies. “I’ve worked in bakeries for ten years,” says head baker Arlander Brown, who previously worked at Manhattan’s Librae, “on a Tuesday, in Queens, I did not expect 300 people to show up.”

Yet just a month earlier, something similar had happened in Prospect Heights. Sofreh, an Iranian restaurant off Flatbush Avenue, opened its neighboring café with pastries like tahini-date banana bread and latifeh, a delicate, cream-filled sandwich cookie. Nasim Alikhani, the chef and owner, says that the café was prepared for about 100 customers when they quietly unlocked their door for a soft opening in March. “I think some influencer person said something,” Alikhani tells me, “because we didn’t announce it. We just opened our door.” Nevertheless, the café was sold out by 11:00 a.m. and had to start turning people away. Now, on a typical weekend day, the cafe serves about 400 people.

Chances are good that no matter where you live in the city, you are not far from a line of customers, stretching around a block, all waiting patiently to buy some baked goods. Outside L’Appartement 4F in Brooklyn Heights an hour before closing on a recent Saturday afternoon, there were a dozen or so people waiting ahead of me in line to fight over the last few kouign-amanns and plain croissants (the bakery’s famous $50 boxes of croissant cereal had sold out hours ago, even with the strict two-per-person limit). At lunchtime on a recent Monday, there was a line to order prosciutto sandwiches and rhubarb croissants at Radio Bakery in Greenpoint, and another wait for an outdoor table to eat them. On a drizzly Wednesday morning, there was no avoiding a queue for ramp-and-Cantal escargots — a pastry shaped like a snail’s shell with a green spiral of ramp oil — and chocolate pains Suisse (a smaller, more delicate take on a chocolate croissant) at the newly opened Laurel in the Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhood.

“In the last few weeks we’ve seen the ramp escargot just take over like wildfire,” says Nico Russell, one of the owners of Laurel as well as Place des Fêtes in Clinton Hill. “We did not expect it to be this busy, to be honest with you,” he says. He remembers asking someone four days after opening if it was their first time visiting; they told him it was their fourth time.

More are on the way: Both L’Appartement 4F and Radio are in the process of opening second locations, and the buzzy Nordic bakery La Cabra will open a third later this year. The panadería Pan y Cafe will make the jump from sold-out pop-up to Williamsburg brick-and-mortar next month. And celebrated, name-brand bakers like Crown Shy’s Renata Ameni, pastry chef Zoe Kanan, and Gramercy Tavern vet Lauren Tran are all opening spots of their own this year.

Even bakeries with no designs on virality could become the next neighborhood sensation. A couple months after Autumn Moultrie opened her bakery Bread & Butter in Bed-Stuy last fall, a popular Instagram account called @briancantstopeating included a two-second clip of Moultrie’s focaccia in his video of “Top NYC Bites of 2023.” “From that moment on it was really busy,” Moultrie says. “It got rolling way faster than we were really prepared for.” A few weeks ago, another Instagram account posted about Bread & Butter’s banana-pudding soft serve, and Moultrie opened the gate of the bakery to another line around the block. “It’s like, Oh my God, where did all these people come from?

They came from the internet, of course, even though the Hype Bakery template was first established at a time when the Instagram app icon was still a Polaroid-looking camera: When Dominique Ansel’s Cronut debuted 11 years ago, the combination of an attractive pastry made by a skilled technician with fine-dining experience launched a million imitators. The novelty of those early days has softened, but the essential form remains unchanged. Supermoon Bakehouse started selling their “cruffins” stuffed with an ever-rotating menu of fruit curds and pastry creams; Lafayette’s Suprêmes sport a new flavor each month (June’s is Raspberry Linzer with toasted-hazelnut cream); and Eleven Madison Park — arguably in some degree of trouble after its vegan tasting-menu relaunch was met with lukewarm reviews — has seen a resurgence in attention since launching its own Madisons at a series of Bake It Nice pop-ups held outside the restaurant.

That’s where Mike Chau posted a video on his Food Baby account of the line to purchase the $8 vegan croissants — which was roughly three hours long. “It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Chau says.

By the standards of viral croissants, the Madison is a relative latecomer — but it hardly matters. For a restaurant like Eleven Madison Park, where a full tasting menu at dinner costs $365, there is a halo effect at play: The Madison is not merely a croissant; it’s a croissant made in a Michelin-starred kitchen. That counts for something.

Chau’s theory is that the success of any pastry is its relative accessibility over full-blown restaurant reservations. He doesn’t mind the lines too much, either — he typically gets some work done on his phone while he waits — and they are, in the end, as much a part of the Hype Bakery experience as the actual pastries: Joining a group of like-minded croissant lovers is not exactly the same as lining up at the DMV. “I think it has to do with the pandemic and people being stuck in their houses,” Moultrie, from Bread & Butter, says. “People are embracing making themselves happy and having a little treat here and there.”

This post has been updated to reflect Brown’s role at Librae.

Tags:

  • top story
  • bakeries
  • hype bakeries
  • trends
  • somedays
  • lafayette
  • sofreh cafe
  • eleven madison park
  • mike chau
  • laminated availability
  • virality
  • More

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The Hype Bakery Is Here to Stay
The Hype Bakery Is Here to Stay (2024)

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