Friday, September 21, 2012


We are rounding the final turn towards the moment when we turn the mezzanine lights in the bakery back on for the season. They've been dim since June, when summer's heat arrived early and strong, and we wanted to push back at it. We've been doing this for a few years now - dimming the bakery lights on high heat days - it doesn't just lower the temperature, it creates a unique mood on our mezzanine. We set candles out on the tables, and even as a few hundred New Yorkers come and go thru the day, the room transforms into a unique, cool down environment for all.

Back on 17th Street where City Bakery began, we were a go to spot for young moms in Union Square. As a by-product and function of that group, we happened to be the breast-feeding capital of Manhattan among food businesses [file that claim under: "Unverifiable but Unique New York City Food Industry Trivia."]

These days, we still have the mom contingent [stroller parking under the stairs, please], but our seats  are primarily filled with people who work in the neighborhood. As a by-product and function of that group, I am certain we've become the job interview capital of lower Manhattan, which makes a summer of candlelight in the bakery so interesting to me.

Here's a fun fact: over the last few months, several hundred people have been interviewed for professional employment by candlelight on the mezzanine at City Bakery. Here's a fun guess: in the last few months, City Bakery has become the world leader as a venue hosting candlelight job interviews [business meetings, too]. I've watched 99% of these myself, and wondered every time I see a job interview: does either the interviewer or the interviewee make any mention of the fact that they're sitting in the dark? When spouses or friends or parents of interviewees ask "How'd your interview go today?", I wonder how many say "It went well, but there was one strange thing: it was in the dark."

This feels altogether New York to me. I've watched hundreds of meetings these past months. I've had an ear in on enough of them to know that the candlelight is almost never mentioned. If this is not a [subtle] measure of the New York gene  - go with the flow and adapt - I don't know what is.

We're turning the lights back on for October, and they'll stay on through the winter [the better to provide extra warmth in the bakery], but I'm already looking forward to candlelight again next summer.

1 comment:

  1. This posting about candlelight brought back fond memories of being in early labor with 2 of my 3 children at City Bakery. It was where I wanted to be, in the lunchtime rush, feeling like my life was NOT about to be forever altered by the end of that day with the birth of a child. Sharing a deeply private moment with my husband surrounded by the noise and bustle of City Bakery. Your restaurant is such an integral part of our family: from when I first visited back in 1996 following a NY magazine write up, introducing my husband-to-be to your food after he moved to NYC from Germany, carrying packages of cookies to relatives in Jamaica and New Orleans, to having dinner at the 'new location' (remember when you served dinner?), ushering in the new millennium with your chocolate white chunk cookies and being the first outing for each of our newborn children, only days after their births. Life has gotten busy in recent years and we don't come in for weekend brunch as often as we would like to but when we can we come by to visit our wooden toy kitchen under the staircase. When our kids outgrew it I wanted it to have a good home so I had a chat withIlene and now it puts a smile on my face whenever I stop by and see kids using it. City Bakery is an integral part of our family history and we hope you will work your food magic for many years to come. Melanie Weston and the Jakob Family


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