New Eizenshtein Bakery Looks to Take the Cake
Buying trendy baked goods will soon be easy as apple pie for residents of the Wilf Campus, since Eizenshtein Bakery, set to welcome its first storefront clients within a week, is located less than 100 feet from the Morgenstern Residence Hall on Amsterdam Avenue between 186th and 187th Streets. That block already has three kosher restaurants and a kosher food store.
Eizenshtein Bakery will sell a range of pareve (non-dairy, non-meat) baked goods, including challahs, cakes, and the upscale French confection, macarons. The new store will also sell a selection of vegan products, including donuts, babka, cupcakes, muffins, and brownies, as well as gluten-free cookies. In addition, the bakery will offer prepared salads as well as a coffee machine.
Named after proprietor Jonathan Eizenshtein, the bakery will also be owned Benjy Isaac, the famed owner of neighboring Israeli-style grill Golan Heights and Michael Knafo, a friend of Mr. Isaac and native of Morocco.
The idea to open a bakery came when Messrs. Isaac and Eizenshtein wanted to open something together. “We wanted something new for the Heights,” Mr. Eizenshtein said. “It’s 2016. I like the old stuff,” he said, referring to another kosher bakery in Washington Heights, “but this is going to be for everyone, and it’s going to be a nice place to hang out.”
The vision for Eizenshtein Bakery is to serve quality, novel baked goods to all of New York City. “Nobody makes a brand new kind of pastry, but we all try to improve on the traditional,” Mr. Eizenshtein said. He stressed that their target market “is not only kosher-keeping clientele. We want everyone to know us—not just religious Jews, not just Jews—we want everyone to be welcome here and enjoy our products.”
Although its storefront is not yet open to the public, the bakery has already received and filled large catering orders. The bakeshop plans to have a delivery service for clients who cannot come to the storefront.
Despite the broad target market, the new bakery recognizes the prominence of Yeshiva University students among its clientele. Mr. Eizenshtein stated that he intends for his store to accept the Caf Card’s Omni Dollars soon after opening. This may prove critical to drawing business from the over 600 Yeshiva University students who live in Wilf Campus housing and are obligated to pay for 250 Omni Dollars as part of their meal plan.
Eizenshtein Bakery is opening its doors in the midst of a hubbub about the relationship between local restaurants and Omni Dollars. Recently, Omni Dollars stopped being acceptable currency at Golan Heights, which was charging tax on purchases made with Omni Dollars, which should be tax-exempt. YU refuses to allow Omni Dollars to be spent on taxed purchases and Golan Heights owner Mr. Isaac claims that unlimited Omni Dollar accounts breach his contract with YU and hurt his business.
Sophomore Eitan Lipsky, a pre-medical student majoring in biology, said that if the new bakery accepts the Omni Dollars he will be “excited” to have “a place in Washington Heights to buy baked goods. It will make life convenient.”
Yoni Annenberg, an accounting major and resident of the Morgenstern Residence Hall, thought similarly: “a new bakery here would be great. It will be nice to have a new option for hosting gifts, especially if it would accept the Caf Card [Omni Dollars].”
Adir Pinchot, head resident advisor of the Morgenstern Residence Hall, seemed less concerned about the acceptance of Omni Dollars. According to Mr. Pinchot, the residents of Morgenstern “anticipate that the new source of delicious, fatty foods will lighten our wallets while adding extra weight to our bellies.” Continuing in a light tone, he added that residents “are exceedingly excited” for the opening of the new bakery nearby.
The new bakery’s proprietors have over twenty years of combined experience in the food vending industry. Originally from Afula, Israel, Mr. Eizenshtein said that when he was 14, he started attending high school only two days a week and the other days he would take a bus to Tel Aviv, where he was working as a dish washer in a restaurant. When he was in 10th grade, he started cooking. He stayed with his employers as they opened a restaurant in Raanana, which exposed him to the process of starting a food vending business. At that restaurant, he was also exposed to baking for the first time.
“I fell in love with it,” Mr. Eizenshtein said. “If you could taste the first cake I made and then taste the cake I made two days ago, you would taste the gaping difference.”
Mr. Eizenshtein immigrated to the United States two years ago, arriving with only a suitcase and a little money. Soon after arriving, he found work at a restaurant in Harlem owned by an Israeli. Currently, Mr. Eizenshtein bakes under Daniel Boulud, an award-winning French chef who owns seven restaurants in New York.
Despite his rich experience, Mr. Eizenshtein acknowledges that there will be challenges. He expects that the pareve aspect will be among the most difficult. “It’s just not the same, baking pareve. It doesn’t taste like the original recipes with real butter.”
Looking to the future, the young baker and new small business owner dreams of having “a small factory for baked goods. This place [Eizenshtein Bakery’s current locale] is too small for everything I want to do,” he shared.
“It’s going to be really busy in here,” Mr. Eizenshtein warned with a hopeful smile. “Remember what I’m telling you: it’s going to be crazy.”