New York has lost some locally-loved brands. Stella D’oro moved its Bronx breakfast treats to Ohio; Sabra relocates its Astoria hummus plant to Virginia and Melba toast leaves the Bronx for North Carolina this month; and now Damascus Bakery is building in Jersey City.
But an explosion of niche food companies, striving to become Gotham’s next household names, tempers their exodus. The new crop of companies include bakers sharing cooperative kitchens and artisanal gin distillers in old warehouses playing up New York roots.
“My dedication to keeping this in Brooklyn has never been clearer,” said Shamus Jones, who runs Brooklyn Brine out of a Greenpoint restaurant. He went from pickling 44 pounds of produce a week to 700 pounds a day and is now in gourmet grocers, Whole Foods and growing.
So far, the niche makers can’t make up the loss of jobs from the departure of the larger companies.
“It takes a long time and a lot of luck and business smarts to grow from two or three people to owning your own property and employing hundreds,” said Samuel Biele-Fisher, of the New York Industrial Retention Network. “But, at the very beginning nobody thought Brooklyn Brewery would support a lot of jobs.”