Monday, October 27, 2008

The Insider: Billy's Bakery

As I've mentioned many times before on this blog, one of the managers at my firm is part owner of Billy's Bakery. For pretty much as long as I've been working there, I've been pestering him to give me a backstage tour of the bakery, threatening blog-related retribution should he not comply. Well, this past Sunday I got my wish. Ever wonder what it's like behind the counter of one of Manhattan's premier bakeries? Read on to find out.

Billy's was opened five years ago by Marc and Wayne, a pair of business-school buddies. Since that time, they've stayed true to their mission: serving top-quality Americana-style desserts coupled with a memorable and enjoyable customer service experience. Their formula, bolstered by the fact that their desserts are truly delicious (as I've attested here, here, and here) has brought the adorable little bakery success.

On the street level, Billy's offers a number of temptations. While cupcakes may be their bread-and-butter, so to speak, they make incredible cakes (try the banana cake. I beseech you), cheesecakes, brownies, icebox cakes, pies, muffins, and so on and so forth. They supplement that with clever birthday-related trappings, including candles and birthday cards.

That's what you can see from in front of the counter-- but the real magic goes on behind the scenes. Behind the counter, the vintage icebox keeps milk cold for the cups of restoring coffee flying out the door.

Unfrosted cupcakes sit ready for the next stage in their life.

Kitchenaid mixers churn up batters for the next batch...

...which then goes in the double oven.

And various cooking implements and unfrosted cakes sit at the ready.

Below ground, more naked cupcakes await...

...and cakes sit at the ready for their future owners.

Raw ingredients sit on metal racks throughout the surprisingly spacious basement. Did you know they dye their own sprinkles? True story!

There are even two office spaces for taking orders and completing administrative tasks.

Overall, the bakery was incredibly clean and much more spacious (underground) than I had anticipated. Everyone I met was really friendly and nice, which was a pleasant change from the antagonistic and aggressive atmosphere of the Magnolias of the world (ahem). It was incredible how much volume Billy's was doing on a lazy Sunday afternoon--not only were the cupcakes flying off the shelves, but the bakers were baking and the place was buzzing behind the scenes. As Marc and I stood outside near the door, a patron asked us whether we were on line; as he explained jovially, often there's a line out the door (Marc confirmed that he's right about that).

So, in addition to learning a lot of information about the business itself, which I can't share with you, my dear readers (sorry...), I learned how seriously Billy's takes all the various elements that go into your delicious but deceptively complex cupcake. From the vintage appliances to the top-quality ingredients to the impeccable cleanliness downstairs, Billy's owners really care about their business and their customers. And if that doesn't draw you to their adorable shop in Chelsea, their baked goods should. Have I mentioned their banana cake is divine?


DanielleBilton said...

Mark is so nice! I was friend's with Billy, he put a lot of work into all the details of the place. Even down to the vintage wall paper. Glad to hear Mark is doing such a great job with the place! I wouldn't expect anything less.

Atiyah said...

WOW thats cool that they put the cakes in the carriers for you. I do wish bakeries would get away from the cardboard boxes they dry out the product.