I think most people have a place that gives them a positive lift the moment they enter the door, no matter what kind of day they were having beforehand. Well, the moment they used to walk in the door. …not much of that happening during the pandemic.
That place for me is Butler Bakeshop in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was one of the first places I “discovered” when I moved into the neighborhood three years ago. This neighborhood coffee shop is bright, well designed, cozy and full of good vibes. The staff knows all the regulars by name, including the kids, the pastries are fresh and inventive and there’s always a lively buzz.
Before the pandemic, I typically arrived at Butler soon after it opened on the weekends, ordered a drink (yes, a lot of matcha lattes) and sat down with a book for an hour or more. At that hour, there was a great calm. Williamsburg isn’t an early morning crew so I had my pick of the small tables lining the windows and could establish quiet and focus. After 15-20 minutes, the neighborhood dads might start to trickle in with their young kids and from there, a steady flow of caffeine hungry locals would come and go. Even when Butler started to get noisy, it was still my favorite place to read and have moments to myself.
When the city started to shut down, I knew it would be a while before I would sit in one of those chairs again with the sun hitting my back. However, I took solace in the fact that I could pick up a socially distanced beverage (and pastry!) from Butler’s takeaway window. In those first several weeks, my short walk there became my sanity and my few moments to see a friendly face.
Then, Butler made the decision to temporarily close and I was crushed! It was my excuse for a walk. It was my excuse to say hello to my favorite barista and support a business that means something to me. When would it return? And then, after five weeks. …on May 1. …they came back! Based on the reception I’ve seen in social media, I think a lot of their regulars are just as excited as I am.
Then, yesterday, I came across Butler doing more than just serving their customers. With kitchens reopened, the Butler crew is now packaging and delivering lunches to frontline workers at NYU Langone, New York Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Lenox Hill hospitals. The goal is to deliver 750 meals by July 4. For every $12 donated to Butler’s GoFundMe, a medical worker will get a coffee, lunch and dessert. Also, if a medical worker stops by a Butler location, they can always get a free coffee. Another example of a food business going the extra mile to help those who need support during the pandemic, even as their business goes through its own challenges.
So, to the entire Butler team, thank you. Thank you for giving me a happy place. Thank you for serving your customers safely and with a smile. Thank you for what you’re doing for the broader NYC community. You are so appreciated.
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