There will be some new faces at the Hester Street Fair this weekend, including Guss’ Pickles (a new/old face) and Daisy BBQ, plus lots of returning vendors. Continuing our series profiling fair participants, I visited yesterday afternoon with the guys behind Melt Bakery, one of Hester Street’s freshman year stars.
Fair organizers have made supporting budding entrepreneurs and artists a big priority. Julian Plyter and Kareen Hamady are a great example of that. Melt Bakery is a concept born on the Lower East Side, and now it’s about to establish a permanent “brick-and-mortar” presence in the neighborhood. I met them at 132 Orchard, just above Delancey Street, an empty storefront amongst the shoe and leather stores dotting this historic block. In the next six weeks or so, the sliver of a space will be converted into Melt’s production facility and retail shop.
Kareem, who has a finance background, met Julian, the onetime pastry chef at Lever House, during one of his popular cooking classes. They soon became business partners and co-conspirators in a plan to re-imagine the traditional ice cream sandwich. One day, Kareem noticed the transformation of an empty lot at the end of Hester Street (not far from his apartment). After learning it was destined to become home to a new curated food and crafts fair, he and Julian jumped at the chance to become one of the first Hester Street vendors.
It was a good decision. Fair-goers loved the unusual flavor combinations (Guinness and salted peanut, cinnamon and Snickerdoodle, Ginger and lemon sable). Loads of attention from Daily Candy, Time Out, Urban Daddy and other media outlets helped spread the word. Julian says he was shocked (and thrilled) when one woman showed up at the fair, suitcase in hand; she had just flown in from St. Louis and came directly from the airport, having read an article about Melt.
Julian and Kareem have an infectious enthusiasm for their young business. Standing in the raw Orchard Street space, they talked about their vision for the store. The production facility will allow for the expansion of commercial operations, sales to restaurants and special events. They’re planning on staying open late weekend evenings. The retail shop is sure to be a big hit with the nighttime bar crowds, as well as with visitors to the Tenement Museum (just across the street).
But first things first: gearing up for another weekend at the Hester Street Fair. Melt and the other vendors will be open for business Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The fair is located on Essex Street, at Hester. You can see the full vendor list here.