Coming to 550 Vanderbilt in September: New Cafe Ciao Gloria, from a Founder of Baked

Ciao Gloria coming to 550 Vanderbilt (Photo: Norman Oder)

By: Norman Oder

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – Ciao Gloria, a new cafe from a co-founder of the dessert specialist Baked—which opened in 2005 in Red Hook—will be the second retail outlet to open in the base of the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower on Vanderbilt Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets in Prospect Heights.

Signage for Ciao Gloria is up at a retail space just north of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, which opened April 25. Cafe founder Renato Poliafito says he’s aiming for a mid-September opening.

The new cafe is funded thanks to Poliafito, a loan, and more than $50,000 raised via Kickstarter, thanks to a last-minute push. His plan, as announced on Kickstarter: “I’m opening a café that offers up a spin on the classic desserts and pastries I’m known for, that serves a savory breakfast and lunch, along with a great cup of coffee and a big nod to my Italian-American upbringing.”

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The name Ciao Gloria, Poliafito explained in an email, is only coincidentally related to Gloria Vanderbilt (Avenue). “It evokes such a positive, bright feeling for me. The sound of it and the definition of the word. It’s always been one of my favorite names (and songs) too.”

“The Ciao part is personal for me, because for me it’s saying goodbye to my past at Baked and hello to this new venture,” he said. “And my cafe will have a slight Italian bend to it, so that’s how it all ties together.” Poliafito said he stepped away from Baked about two years ago, but remains on good terms with his co-founder.

Four Retailers, Not Three

The arrival of Ciao Gloria means a fourth retail outlet at the condo tower, part of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park complex. While the building’s June 2015 Offering Plan announced three retail units, an April 2018 document filed with the city’s Department of Buildings indicated that one of those spaces would be divided in two, involving the adjacent Van Leeuwen and Ciao Gloria.

In May 2018, the building’s developer announced that Van Leeuwen and two other retail tenants, Beer Street and Eladia’s Kids, were, as Bklyner reported, “slated to open at the site later this year.” That, apparently, was overoptimistic.

Beer Street co-founder Josh Meckes said he and partner Cory Bonfiglio are aiming to open the 550 Vanderbilt version of Beer Street (Instagram handle: “Beer Street South”) by October or November. Not atypical challenges involving the Department of Buildings contributed to the delay, he said.

The usable space will be more than triple that available at their original location in Williamsburg, which opened as a bar in 2014. That will allow Beer Street to offer a full bar plus 25 taps focused on local/state brews, rather than ten as in Williamsburg. They also plan to serve sandwiches from Foster Sundry in Bushwick.

While childcare provider Eladia’s Kids indicates two more locations are coming this year, their web site does not mention an opening at 550 Vanderbilt. A source familiar with 550 Vanderbilt says Eladia’s Kids will not be coming. So the building apparently has another vacancy.

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