Thursday, January 3, 2019
A visit to Rossy's Bakery & Café on 3rd Street
Photos and interview by Stacie Joy
I dropped by to talk to Rossy’s Bakery owner, Rossy Caba, and meet the family, including her mom Norma Ortiz and brother Gabriel Escalante, who runs the bakery and café at 242 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C.
How did Rossy’s Bakery get started?
Rossy’s bakery was started by my mom, Norma Ortiz, who was baking out of her apartment on Second Street. She was baking for family and friends and it got too big, too many people were calling for cakes — the apartment looked like a bakery!
So, we started looking for places in the neighborhood — on Second Street, on Orchard Street, but had a hard time finding something affordable. We wanted something already built. This space we’re in now used to be a plumber’s office. [Ed note: The address was also home to Slugs' Saloon, operating as a jazz club until 1972.] We tore it down and rebuilt it. It’s a great location, next to the Post Office, and we get a lot of postal workers and law enforcement here too.
[Rossy's brother Gabriel Escalante]
What are your most popular items?
We are most well-known for our custom cakes, and Norma is still baking them. We feature Dominican-style cakes, which are more moist than traditional ones and have a merengue frosting not buttercream. We do a lot of birthday cakes! Our most popular flavors are the dulce de leche and the tres leches cakes.
We have a website and Instagram and Facebook but we are mostly world-of-mouth.
For our food offerings the most popular are the BBQ ribs and the baked chicken plates. We sell small a small lunch (take-out only) for the afterschool crowd. It’s for $6.50 (a dollar extra for the fish) made with rice and beans and chicken (or meat). We also have a large plate for $9 ($1 extra for fish). Kids love to come in and get empanadas or a smoothie too.
Who is your typical customer?
Neighborhood people, all people. Kids, families. People who like good food.
What, if anything, has changed since you opened?
When we first started, we just had some pastries and cakes, but we learned quickly it wasn’t enough to sustain a business. We branched out and added a juice bar, smoothies, steam tables and small lunches.
We are grateful to the Lower East Side Federal Credit Union — they were so helpful in getting us started. It took some time to hire contractors to build the place out. We have a lease for another six years and we’ve been here for more than 10 years already! We are here for the community and we want to serve the community. We keep our prices reasonable and affordable because times are not easy. Everyone knows each other here in the East Village.
The building right next door will be demolished to make way for a 7-floor luxury residential building. Any concerns about the impending construction and its impact on business?
We may benefit from it, because the construction crew will come here to eat. We are concerned about the noise and the dust. It may be horrendous. They might have to come over and put up plastic sheeting and things to protect our business, if not I will raise hell! We don’t know yet how it will affect the neighborhood other than there will be less affordable-housing options for people.
On a recent visit I spotted legendary performance artist Penny Arcade dining at Rossy's along with Dr. Dave Ores...
"This is Lower East Side home-cooking at its best," Arcade told me. "A nice celebration of the food of the neighborhood."
Rossy’s Bakery is at 242 E. Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. The café is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to the Tompkins Square Library branch on 10th Street
A visit to Bali Kitchen on 4th Street
A visit to Eat’s Khao Man Gai on 6th Street
A visit to Yoli Restaurant on 3rd Street
Preparing for Saturday's dinner at Il Posto Accanto on 2nd Street
A visit to the Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen on 7th Street
A trip to the recently expanded Lancelotti Housewares on Avenue A
A visit to C&B Cafe on 7th Street