When Vincent Soccodato looks at the empty 20-by-5 foot slab of sidewalk outside the Pelham Delite Bake Shop on Crosby Avenue, he sees a lively coffee shop, bakery and a place for local residents to feel at home.
Soccodato, president of the Delite Bakeries, which owns the Pelham Delight and the Delite Bake Shop in Yonkers, is planning to expand the bake shop and dining area with a European-style sidewalk cafe, which will include a copper roof and french sliding doors. He expects construction on the addition will start in about a month and should be completed by the end of the summer.
“Since we took the business over in 2007, business has increased tremendously. What happens is the tables here are always occupied,” Soccodato said. “With this new cafe we will put in 32 additional seats with a full handicapped accessible bathroom. It’s going to be state of the art, with air-conditioning and television also. We can go alfresco too. It will depend on the weather.”
Customers who come to the new cafe will be able to enjoy all 140 award-winning European-style pastries, from cakes to croissants,offered in the shop. Several pastry chefs that helped the Delite shop in Yonkers get selected as the best bakery in Yonkers in 2005 by the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce, will be moving to the Delite shop in Pelham Bay, Soccodato said. Two servers will be added to the eight person staff that handles the current shop as well. Once the expansion is done, Soccodato hopes to put on a second and third floor, which would mean even more jobs.
The expansion has been in the works for more than a year, Soccodato said. After developing the architectural and engineering plans, Soccodato had to get approval from Community Board 10, the city Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of City Planning.
Kenneth Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10, said that his agency approved the plans several months ago after finding the neighborhood supportive of the project. As part of the approval process, the board sent out letters to the immediate neighbors and the Pelham Bay Merchants Association to see if there were any objections to the addition, which will be built into the public sidewalk. He said there were no objections.
“The Pelham Delite Bake Shop has had a long history of service to the Pelham Bay community, and when they approach the board to request a sidewalk cafe to further serve the community and enhance their business, the community board agreed,” he said.
According to Soccodato, the expansion will leave about 20 feet of sidewalk remaining. Kearns said that it was not an issue because several shops in the area already have small expansions into the sidewalk area.
While Soccodato hopes the expansion will keep business moving forward, he also hopes the area can be used as a meeting place for those involved in the Pelham Bay community. He said he has already spoken with Councilman James Vacca about using the space free of charge to host community meetings.
“Each agency told me this neighborhood needs a space for people to have coffee and get refuge when there’s bad weather,” he said. “We’ve already talked with some senior centers about using the place once a week for their activities, so it’s going to almost be like a community room.”