Bakery and cafe with basement cocktail bar to open in Bed-Stuy

Bakery by Textboom will open at 874 Hancock St. in Bed-Stuy.
Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

A bakery and cafe that will blend Middle Eastern and South American flavors for its signature recipes plans to open its doors on Hancock Street in Bed-Stuy soon and, if all goes to plan, in the weeks following a cocktail bar will open in the basement downstairs.

An eye-catching black and white mural has been painted on the exterior of the building on the corner of Hancock Street and Howard Avenue in preparation for the opening of Bakery by Textbook. The new eatery is related to Textbook Cafe in Fort Greene.

Bakery by Textbook will serve homemade breads, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and a range of beverages, according to co-owner David Spevak. Spevak and his business partner Shaun Littman own Textbook Cafe in Fort Greene. The bakery, located at 874 Hancock St., will also supply bread and pastries to the Fort Greene location — and potentially other future spots, Spevak said. Currently, the Fort Greene location sells baked goods from Pain D’Avignon.

The “star baker” the pair found to lead Bakery by Textbook specializes in Latin American and Middle Eastern baking, and is currently finalizing the menu for the new space, Spevak said. If pricing is anything like the Fort Greene place, sandwiches will be selling for between $7.50 and $14, and drinks for between $3 and $6.80. Some menu items from the Fort Greene location include Tunisian fries, a pb&j with pork belly breakfast sandwich, steak and gruyere sandwich, a vegan fried chicken sandwich, and Persian salad.

Spevak and Littman, who have been best friends since eighth grade, opened Textbook Cafe in 2022 after the pandemic closed down the printing business they had for more than 20 years. It specialized in printing yearbooks for kids’ sports like Little League and soccer.

“We kind of had nowhere to go business speaking because no kids were playing sports,” Spevak said, adding that they landed on the idea of a cafe at the suggestion of both of their kids.

The building is covered in an eye-catching mural.Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

He said the pair pride themselves on hiring staff who get along and make a good team, adding the staff at the Fort Greene location are almost the same as when the location opened two years ago.

They decided to open a second spot because the Fort Greene space, across from Brooklyn Hospital, is too small to run a bakery, Spevak said. They focused on Bed-Stuy because that’s where Littman lives. The first building they looked at was 874 Hancock St., and they secured it immediately.

“We were like oh my god, this is exactly what we’re looking for. It’s all glass, it’s an old brownstone, it’s like a big canvas for our branding,” he said. Sealing the deal, the landlord said they could paint the facade with a mural similar to the one at the Fort Greene location. The whimsical and playful murals look like pen and ink doodles of cartoon-style flowers, books, a friendly-looking skull and crossbones, words in bubble font, and plenty more. Both murals were designed by Los Angeles-based artist Wotto and painted by artist Annagrace.

One thing that stands out at the new location, other than the eye-catching mural, is large signage explaining that the cafe offers free refills for drinks that are transferable between locations on the same day, and it doesn’t charge more for dairy-free milks. The decision, Spevak said, is about providing the best service to customers. He said he and Littman have goals to open more Textbook locations around Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene, so customers can ideally walk between cafes during the day and keep refilling their coffee.

The neighborhood seems receptive to what they’re doing, Spevak said, with people coming up to the doors while the build out was going on and being supportive of their efforts. So far, more than 30 people have stopped by to hand in their resumes, which he said means the cafe will be able to hire locally and contribute to the local economy.

The storefront last week.Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

While Bed-Stuy has seen a number of cafes, restaurants, and bars open in recent years, there are still relatively few bakeries offering loaves of bread, and the largely residential blocks between Broadway and Malcolm X Boulevard don’t have many bars.

A month or so after the bakery opens, which is planned for mid-May, a cocktail bar will debut downstairs, Spevak said. (A liquor license is in process.) Patrons, he joked, will be guided by the baker bouncer, a baker rolling dough upstairs, into the basement, where a range of drinks will be served while they smell the scent of freshly baked bread.

The cafe and bakery will be open seven days a week, while the cocktail bar will likely start with a more reduced schedule centered on weekend hours, he said.

Prior to its transformation into Bakery by Textbook, 874 Hancock St. housed real estate development office LE Capital and roofing and siding company Smart Roofers NY. Before being done over with its glassy storefront — which happened sometime between late 2017 and 2018 after it was sold to Hancock Bricks LLC in 2017 for $875,000 — it was home to Lily of the Valley Revival Church, Google Maps shows.

In the early 20th century, the building was occupied by a butcher, the newspaper articles and the 1940s tax photo show.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner