These merchants are literally off to the races!
Red Hook businesses are charging up for the Formula E electric-car race that cruises into the nabe this weekend, including a gelato shop where proprietors will be scooping a special event-inspired flavor topped-off with glycerin — the same fuel drivers use to zoom around the track.
“We wanted to have something matching the spirit of the race with the speed,” said Pierre Alexandre, who co-owns Dolce with his wife, Kristina Frantz, who created the flavor.
The shop on Van Brunt and King streets is serving “Soul Fuel” gelato made with espresso chocolate, espresso shavings, and a drop of glycerin, a tasteless, edible liquid used to charge the race car’s batteries.
Dolce is producing 10 times more of the icy treat than it would for a typical weekend, due to the influx of an estimated 20,000 fans that will descend on Red Hook for the competition at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on July 15 and 16. Shuttles will take spectators arriving on the subway to Van Brunt Street, where they can check out area merchants before the main event, and the gelateria is located right near the drop-off point.
The owners put together a crew of 15 people — four of whom will be whipping gelato in the kitchen non-stop — as opposed to the shop’s usual three at a time, to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the weekend.
The sweet treat already received a glowing review from French Formula E driver Jean-Eric Vergne, according to Alexandre, who said he is looking forward to helping many more people cool down during the race.
“We are excited, it’s a huge event,” he said. “It’s not usual for Red Hook to have something this big, and we are doing our best to be ready.”
And while Dolce will be serving customers from its storefront, other neighborhood vendors are bringing their goods even closer to the masses by setting up booths in a fan village where attendees can grab grub, merchandise, and learn more about the sport’s cars.
Gluten-free bakery Whipped Pastry Boutique, which operates a bakehouse on Richards Street, will be serving special, gluten-free shortbread cookies decorated with four different kinds of Formula-E cars in the village, along with brownies, brown butter donuts, vegan strawberry pop-tarts, muffins, and sandwiches, according to owner Michelle Tampakis.
The baker — who got involved after receiving an e-mail that Formula E sent to local businesses about opportunities to be part of the festivities — said she has been revving her ovens all week to prepare, and is pumped the race is uniting so many area merchants.
“I’m happy Red Hook food makers are getting together and being a little community,” she said.
Nobletree Coffee, located on Van Brunt Street, will also have a cart in the village, where it will be pouring cups of hot and cold joe. The shop set aside 30 pounds of espresso and around 50 gallons of cold brew for the event — 20 more gallons than its outpost at recently-opened DeKalb Market Hall goes through on a normal weekend, according to java shop employees.