Walk into Rose Wolf Coffee on any given morning and the first thing that hits you is the smell of fresh-baked pastries. As in, still-steaming, straight-from-the-oven, baked fresh daily. And that’s just the half of it.
Rose Wolf is a relatively new addition to East Williamsburg, where business partners and co-owners Heidi Reiss and Jenny Yoffee have set up shop in an old garage at 867 Metropolitan, just a few blocks east of the Graham Avenue L stop.
The shop is gorgeous, transforming what used to be a burnt-out 1930s garage into a neighborhood destination. Up front, it’s all business at the entryway, with a classic counter serve set-up for customers to grab a coffee or pastry and be on their way—there’s even window service for those who don’t feel like tying up their dogs.
But if you’re planning to stick around for a chat with a friend or to do some work, there’s a whole other room through a short hallway, where customers can sit and sip without the traffic of to-go customers or the screech of an espresso machine.
It’s clean and well-appointed without feeling sterile, a mix of couches, small and long tables, and even a raised bar against the floor-to-ceiling windows facing Metropolitan, where light streams in during the morning hours.
“We wanted a space where people could relax and decompress,” says Heidi. A mix of plants adds green to the sitting area—some were purchased, others rescued from the owners’ backyards for the winter, and still more donated by neighborhood friends as congratulations on opening the new shop.
Open for about three weeks now, with Heidi taking care of the baking and Jenny running the beverage program, Rose Wolf is finding its stride. A veteran of fine dining and high-end bakery jobs in Manhattan, Heidi has been living in the neighborhood for more than a decade, running a few small businesses. Now, on top of that, she’s in the shop every morning baking a smorgasbord of mainly vegan and gluten-free pastries.
Everything from drip coffee to lattes, espresso and matcha are available from the baristas, but it’s truly in the pastries where the shop shines. Heidi will gleefully run down the types of muffins and breads she’s baked for the day, an ever-evolving and improving rotation that incorporates both crowd favorites and sudden bursts of inspiration.
“That’s a banana-peanut-butter pound cake with peanut glaze,” she says, pointing. “That’s a cranberry-blueberry-banana scone. Here’s a chocolate-banana-white-chocolate and walnut muffin. This is a lemon-ginger-matcha muffin.”
The comical stacking of descriptors for each treat is enough to make one nearly glaze over, but the skill behind the creations is clear from the first bite. While vegan and gluten-free offerings are often relegated to a selection or two, nearly all the treats at Rose Wolf fit the bill. Not that one would even notice without being told—they’re delicious, full stop.
Heidi, who had a progressive set of food allergies affect what she’s able to eat, wanted to focus on creative and tasty food that anyone could eat. “I wanted my daughter, who is allergic to gluten, to be able to come in and pick out anything she wanted,” she says of the menu.
Of course, the ham-and-cheese and rosemary-feta croissants aren’t vegan or celiac friendly, but there are just some things that you can’t cut corners on, she said. The hand-made goods are a cut above, a testament to what happens with “just a little bit of care, a little bit of love,” Heidi says.
Much off the coffeeshop’s set-up was focused around what they didn’t like about other places they’ve been: the faceless corporate automation, the high prices for skimpy portions of artisanal baked goods, spaces so chic it’s hard to feel comfortable. In avoiding those pitfalls, they’ve achieved something quite good—and people are responding.
During their soft opening, business has been steady, and pastries have been selling out most days. On the rare occasions they don’t, Heidi and Jenny take the food to the nearby school—they won’t serve day-olds, they said. The popularity has also led to some new surprises: the crowd favorite banana-peanut-butter pound cake was created and whipped up last-minute when Heidi was surprised by how quickly other items were selling. Now, it’s a staple.
As the neighborhood quiets down a bit for Christmas, they’ll be working away, keeping time with regulars and maintaining the space they wanted to see in the neighborhood. But in the new year, there are some big plans: savory food and quinoa bowls, CBD drinks, reiki events—the possibilities are endless.
Opens seven days a week and run by a staff of 8 from around the neighborhood, Rose Wolf Coffee is an inclusive space in a neighborhood undergoing some serious changes. They plan to stick around, though, and the owners said they’ve built the shop for the neighbors, sure, but it’s something they plan to pass down to their kids—Rose Wolf is in it for the long haul.
If you’re looking to support local business, women-owned business, or just need a pastry-and-coffee fix, make sure to add Rose Wolf to the rotation—you won’t regret it.