By JIM WILLIS
Sisters Ayca User and Zeynep Ozdemir were hours away from opening the doors to their French bakery on Monmouth Street in Red Bank when PieHole stopped in to find out what we can expect when Antoinette Boulangerie opens to the public on Friday morning.
The bakery was buzzing with dough mixers and we were engulfed in the smell of sweet pastries. Within seconds, we realized that PieHole‘s New Year’s Resolution to “cut down on bread” did not stand a chance.
“The counter is empty now, but by tomorrow morning we are going to have baguettes and croissants and pain au chocolat,” says User. The bakery will also offer mini croissants, bite-sized tartlets, filter coffee, espresso, capuccino and hot chocolate.
User laughs and says it feels like they’ve been postponing their opening since Labor Day.
“The permits and making everything the way it should be took a lot of time,” she says. Though given the magnitude of the changes they’ve made to the former Stokaboka space, they’ve been told by many that they’re lucky to be opening already.
“We found the space in March and signed the lease this summer,” says User, who will manage the front of the bakery while her sister, who trained at New York’s Institute for Culinary Education, oversees the bakery in the back. “So within six months, we’ve done a good job in building up a kitchen from scratch.”
“Red Bank is a beautiful town and it didn’t take us long to decide on this space,” she says.
Originally from Turkey the sisters decided to launch the bakery last year around this time.
“We were just having a family conversation about what everyone wants for 2013,” says User.
User says that after 10 years on Wall Street she was ready for a career change. “My sister had just finished her baking school,” says User, “and she was already working in New York gaining experience. My brother-in-law has been in finance and my husband works in marketing so it was more like just connecting the dots. We were just having a family conversation about what we wanted and everyone turned their heads to my sister and we said why don’t we open a bakery?”
The sisters sent PieHole packing with some of the first loaves to come out of the Antoinette Boulangerie ovens — a pair of white sandwich loaves wonderfully soft on the inside with a thin, pastry-like outer crust. Toasted and spread with a bit of softened butter, we’ve already blown our New Year’s resolution and it’s not even been 48 hours of 2014 yet. With a bakery like this an easy walk down Monmouth Street – where, it’s worth noting we can also pickup cheese, herbs and wine all within a few footsteps – we’re certain this isn’t the first time we’ll be committing small infractions of the resolutions list.
Local residents were turned to to build out the store and staff it. Executive pastry chef Gina Roselle-Broschart and main counter person Kaitlin Wright are both Red Bankers. The ornate sign out front was made by Harry Scanlon of Fair Haven.
With snow in the forecast for opening morning, having bakers and staff who can walk to work is a good thing. “We are definitely going to open, no matter what,” says User.
32 Monmouth Street