NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For owner Antonetta “Toni” Binanti, Rudy’s in Ridgewood is more than a cafe.
“What is Rudy’s? Rudy’s is my home,” she said.READ MORE: New Jersey Artist Said Elatab Burns Paintings To Fight Depression, Express Grief; 'I Call Myself Tragedy Of Art'
When the German-American bakery opened in 1936, its signage bore the word konditorei, the German word for a pastry shop. These days, a distinctive blue and white awning still displays the word. Treats made from the shop’s original recipes, including black forest cake, sit behind an 80-plus-year-old glass showcase.
“Even though things are changing, people still love the old cakes,” Binanti said.
Born in Southern Italy, she immigrated to the United States in 1973. When her family bought Rudy’s seven years later, they brought updates without sacrificing traditional flavor.
The Rudy’s version of the German cake bienenstich layers coffee cake and custard with caramelized cashews. It’s displayed alongside newer additions like alfajores, Latin American confections containing caramel and coconut.
A decades-old neon sign in the window serves as a beacon, especially early in the morning—Rudy’s is among the first shops in the neighborhood to open for the day.
While the coffee, sandwiches, and desserts attract regulars, the biggest draw just might be Toni herself. Her warm, generous spirit has made her a beloved community fixture.READ MORE: Mayor De Blasio Accuses Gov. Cuomo And MTA Of 'Fear Mongering,' Insists Subways Are Safe
“New people walking in, I guess I remind them of their grandmother,” she said.
Her customers were the ones who nicknamed her Toni during her first years behind the counter, back when she was still honing her English. They’ve formed deep bonds with her and can always tell when she’s having a bad day.
“They know me better than I know myself,” she said.
She prepares each day’s offerings based on which regulars she knows will be walking through her doors later.
“I remember every name of my customers,” she said. “They’re my family.”
Rudy’s Bakery and Cafe
905 Seneca Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385
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