Monday, November 10, 2014

Coming soon to 1st Avenue: Sweet Generation, 'A Bakery for Arts Education'

There's a new tenant coming to the former First Avenue Pierogi and Deli at 130 First Ave. near St. Mark's Place.

As you can see, signs are up for Sweet Generation, a bakery that recently raised $27,000 in an Indiegogo campaign that ended on Friday to help build out the space.

Owner Amy Chasan is a former high school arts teacher who quit her job to open the made-to-order cookie and cupcake business … first from her home kitchen then to a shared commercial space.

Here's more about Sweet Generation via Indiegogo:

Before starting Sweet Generation, I dedicated my career to Arts education. I first taught Art in 2004 at an alternative high school that was a last resort for teens — there I witnessed the dramatic and profound transformation that my students experienced when nothing else had worked for them. They gained confidence, developed a stronger sense of self, and assumed greater responsibility for their own success. I spent 8 years running Arts programs and then worked with the City of New York to expand and improve Arts programs in low-income communities.

The problem is the negative impact that funding cuts have on the quality and availability of the Arts to children. In fact, government funding for the arts has decreased by 31% since 1992! I noticed that organizations tried to bridge the gap through bake sales and community events, but the ones that needed it most could not make up the loss.

At the same time, I returned to my lifelong love of baking as a personal creative outlet and before I knew it, I was being hired to cater weddings, art openings and corporate parties. Demand grew to the point that I was baking all night, going to work in the morning, running out to do a delivery on my lunch break, and then starting all over again… and that’s when I came up with the idea for Sweet Generation, a bakery that removes barriers between children and art.

Sweet Generation not only funds Arts education for youth, but engages young people in the business itself. A portion of Sweet Generation’s sales are donated to Arts organizations, and we support their fundraising efforts through in-kind donations of our baked goods. We also started an internship program that teaches baking, work readiness, and entrepreneurship to teens and young adults from low-income communities.

Some of the organizations that Sweet Generation supports are: Theater for a New Audience, Arlington Center for the Arts, Children’s Museum of the Arts, Citizen Schools, Urban Arts Partnership, The After School Corporation (TASC), Precious Dreams Foundation and the Hip-Hop Re:Education Project.

In 2013, the Voice named Sweet Generation the "Best Cupcake" in NYC.

After 30 years here, proprietor Wieslawa Kurowycky and her family decided to retire and close First Avenue Pierogi and Deli in early July.

Previously on EV Grieve:
After 30 years, First Avenue Pierogi and Deli is closing


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great addition to the neighborhood!

I miss the old Pierogi shop, but this makes the loss, if not yet sweet, then at least bittersweet.

- East Villager

Jean West said...

YAY!!!!! Welcome! Just in time for the winter holidays!

Mark Hand The Catchman said...

Why can't anybody just sell some damn fried ice cream ?

Amy, Sweet Generation said...

Hello East Villagers!

We are really looking forward to joining the neighborhood. Lots of folks have come by to inquire, and we can't wait to finish our build-out and officially open our doors (hoping for mid-December). We know nothing can replace a neighborhood staple like the Pierogi shop, and we can only hope to bring as much joy to the neighborhood as they did.

Looking forward to meeting you all!

-Amy Chasan
Owner, Sweet Generation

Former East Villager said...

Can one stop in and buy a single cookie? I got a little confused by the consumer information side of the website; it looks like bulk/corporate orders only.

I love mint chocolate chip cookies and have never seen them for sale before. I'm visiting NYC in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Amy, Sweet Generation - can you make some cupcakes with pierogi fillings? sweet cabbage / saurkraut? mushrooms? i think the taste orthogonality between the sweetness of the cupcake and the flavor of the filling would be awesome! and most definitely put you in the lead for cupcake trendiness.


Anonymous said...

more comfort food for the already pampered, although I like to support arts education in our schools (it has always been underfunded) I can't quite figure out the connection.

Amy, Sweet Generation said...

Once our store opens in December you will definitely be able to walk in and purchase products! Until then, we are still just doing bulk orders to individuals customers as we have been.

Love the idea of savory cupcakes, and are already playing with some ideas - but I love the concept of a pierogi filling cupcake as a nod of the hat to our friends from the pierogi deli.

At Sweet Generation we believe in the power of the Arts and creativity in making change in ones life and in the world, and we act on that by partnering with amazing creative organizations and donating products and a portion of proceeds to help them reach their fundraising goals. As you noted, the arts are critically underfunded, and we are working to combat that and also raise awareness of the importance of the Arts in education. We use the creative environment of our bakery business to teach young people important job and life skills. The retail space will also allow us to showcase talented young emerging artists.

Former East Villager said...

@anon 4:44

"Comfort food for the already pampered"??!!

They are cupcakes and cookies and brownies. I put her in the same category as Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, and I am behind both Amy and Mikey for their vision and perseverance.

Have a swipe instead at lobster mac n' cheese, fois gras burgers and truffle fries.

I'm looking forward to having a mint chocolate chip cookie. My mom used to bake them when I was a kid. I'm long overdue one, I can wait 'til December.