A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing open hours on a Sunday when long-time garden member Elizabeth Santiso was selling biscuits with her pop up shop for the Brooklyn Biscuit Company. I've enjoyed Liz's biscuits several times before--and can never decide between savory or sweet--but this was the first time I'd sat up front and watched as all the people from the neighborhood came in droves to purchase her biscuits. What was especially amazing to see was how people came to buy biscuits but then stayed to enjoy the garden. What she's doing is clearly a huge benefit to the neighborhood, so I decided to learn more and interview her for the blog.
Be sure to check out the Brooklyn Biscuit company's website at: www.brooklynbiscuitcompany.com where you can learn more about Liz and ordering from her directly. Also be sure to like her Facebook page (link here) for updates and menus on when she'll be selling in the garden.
6/15 Blog: What inspired you to start the Brooklyn Biscuit Company?
Brooklyn Biscuit Company: I started baking at a very young age and went to a trade school in my hometown of Bridgeport, CT where I focused on the baking industry. I have lived through quite a number of different vocations but was always known among my friends and colleagues as the baker in the group. Fast forward, a husband, two daughters later, my husband is from Oklahoma and that's where I had (for the fist time!) biscuits and gravy and the biscuits were out of this world. I came back and tried and failed miserably at making them, I leisurely continued to bake them and perfected the recipe two years later. I then thought to begin adding unique spices, flavors and meats to them. Then I tried my hand at scones, which are sweet biscuits, and the variations on those is endless. I started baking them for the Spring Festival in the garden. I got a great response and they always sold out so quickly, I thought it would be a great side business. Thus - The Brooklyn Biscuit Company!
Blog: How long have you been doing the pop up store at the garden? What days are you usually there and what hours?
BBC: I have been doing them for about two years in the garden. I am usually there on Sundays, weather permitting from 9am until they are gone, which is by 2pm.
Blog: What are your most popular flavors and how do you decide what to make each week? And when do you usually sell out?
BBC: Most popular are my Tart Lemon and Blueberry Scones and my Vermont Cheddar and Bacon Biscuits. I sell out by 2pm, depends on the day.
Blog: You have been a long-time member of the garden. How long have you been a member? Do you use ingredients you grow for your products? How else does the garden impact what you are doing with BBC?
BBC: My family and I have been members for 12 years. I do use the herbs I grow and the jalapeños, when I grow them. It really is the brainstorm of Sheila McDevitt regarding the popup idea. She had been mentioning that the garden is a great place to market the products that are produced from the garden by the members. I love doing them in the garden because I am able to introduce people to the garden by letting them know they can enjoy their scones and coffee under the willow and it helps me determine whether this should be a full time job!
Blog: You bring in a lot of traffic to the garden on days that you are there. Do you get a lot of repeat visitors?
BBC: I do have quite a few, they check Facebook on the weekends to see what my menu is going to be and then they text me what they want me to put aside. I post every weekend, it's a great way to find out what Brooklyn Biscuit is up to.
Blog: What's your favorite story of a visitor coming in for a biscuit and staying for the garden?
BBC: A gentleman and his friend stopped by to buy some biscuits while they were looking for an apartment. I happened to be selling Strawberry Shortcake that day and was really doing well selling them. About two hours later he came back with his wife, his mother and father and his friend again and bought 5 Strawberry Shortcakes, ate them in garden and told me it was the garden that helped make up his mind whether to move to the neighborhood. I see him and his wife almost every weekend now.
Blog: A portion of proceeds come back to the garden. Do you want to explain how that works and how the garden has directly benefited from this?
BBC: It's actually part of what customers love about buying my product. Whenever I see they are new, I let them know that a portion of the proceeds comes back to the garden. That is usually my entry point to letting them know the history of 6/15. Most then take a walk around or sit under the willow and then I direct them to the website. It's great PR for those that aren't familiar with it and many of those have been living in the neighborhood for years!
My family and I love this garden and have spent many hours here when our children were young. My daughters used to call it the "magic garden" because they could hide underneath the willow when it was smaller. It's important to me to give back when I do these pop ups and why they are held in the garden. The first year Brooklyn Biscuit was able to purchase the picnic table and the grill for all to use. That makes me feel good when I walk by and see people using it and enjoying themselves.
Blog: What do you see in the future for the Brooklyn Biscuit Company?
BBC: In markets all over the world!!!!!!! Seriously!