Don’t just stroll up to Bonni Bakes expecting to pick up some sweets. Bonni Brown’s kitchen isn’t just where she sells her magnificent cookies, knishes, breadsticks and more—it’s also where she lives.
For 12 years, Brown ran a combination bakery and café along 12th Street, but she eventually decided to scale back. Now she advertises online and sells her goods to a select clientele weekly.
The system works like this: Every Monday night, Brown posts on her blog with photos and descriptions of what she’s been whipping up. Then the emails start to roll in. “It’s amazing how many people are up in the middle of the night,” she says.
By end of day Wednesday, her customers have placed their orders, and Brown starts baking en masse. On Friday, between 1 and 5, those who have ordered can snatch their items. The system allows Brown to control the amount she bakes each week. Knowing ahead of time exactly how many bialys she’s sold, she won’t waste any by overestimating demand.
That personal connection to her customers also feeds her imagination. One contact asked her if she knew how to make “Chicago bacon buns,” a Lithuanian treat. Brown had never heard of them, but gave it a go. The customer loved them, and Brown enjoyed doing the research: “I do like playing in flour.”