Rockaway Beach Bakery Goes Brick and Mortar

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Get your chops ready! Freshly made, gourmet croissant loaves, assortments of breads, muffins, peanut butter pretzel cookies, chocolate chip cookies, biscotti, focaccia — all this and more  — will be at your fingertips at the new Rockaway Beach Bakery (RBB) store.

Well-known and accoladed former Manhattan pastry chef and now proprietor of RBB, Tracy Obolsky, first set up shop in Rockaway, doling out her popular croissants, sticky buns and quiches out of a camper van. According to Obolsky, as word got around, RBB’s popularity grew. “I guess it was more of an underground word-of-mouth kind of advertising. As more people found out and told others, it was just amazing how viral it all became. Even with opening RBB in a storefront location, I am worried about meeting demand. People just seem to really love it all,” Obolsky said.

For example, this past weekend, Obolsky held a pop-up bake sale at Rockaway Beach Brewery, where everything was sold out within the hour. “I couldn’t believe it,” Obolsky said. “When I showed up with my goods, there were 20 people already queued up, waiting. People kept coming, and of course, I ran out of stuff. Everything went so quickly, even the dog treats I made for our four-legged friends! I felt so bad for the folks who came and were disappointed that everything was gone.”

Obolsky shared how she got into baking. “I graduated from Pratt Institute with a fine arts degree in Illustration. I was having trouble finding work, so I became a bartender to make ends meet. The money was great, but I knew that I had to do something else. I started experimenting with my grandmother’s dessert recipes, and sharing with friends. I fell in love with the whole creative process of baking,” Obolsky said.

She then decided to go back to school to study culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute. After graduating, she was hired by restaurant Borough Food and Drink, where she was quickly promoted to pastry chef. Then she moved on and worked at renowned Manhattan and Brooklyn restaurants such as Madison and Vine, Five Napkin Burger, Cookshop, Esca and North End Grill. At all of these places, she was known for her signature sense of style and composition with the foundations of classical pastry. She earned a StarChefs Rising Star Pastry Chef Award in 2015 for her work at North End Grill.

However, Obolsky confessed that she got tired after working for over 10 years in the hectic and demanding restaurant industry. “I got sick of the crazy pace I had working in Manhattan, and coming home to Fort Greene in Brooklyn was not that more relaxing. After working 16-hour days, it just got old, and was not satisfying. After being so focused for years, one day I just felt like I had it. I had to figure out something else.

“I moved to Rockaway two years ago, after living in Fort Greene for 16 years. Living by the beach is definitely a great place to be when you’re not in the kitchen, in the hustle and bustle of a restaurant. So it’s really nice to have this kind of atmosphere and environment to try to balance out my life. I also fell in love with surfing. I love the beach and water. It was a very easy decision for me to move out here.

When I moved to the Rockaways, I saw a lot of opportunities for me to open a business that would benefit the community. I wanted to provide a service that was different, and that folks would welcome. Don’t get me wrong, I still work my bum off, and I still have long hours when I bake here in Rockaway, but the atmosphere is so satisfying,” Obolsky said.

Obolsky’s most popular dish? “Hands down, it’s the everything, ham and Swiss croissant. It doesn’t matter how many I make, they sell so quickly. Before I bake the croissants, I put an everything mix on top, the same spices you see on the outside of an everything bagel. It just adds so much flavor, that makes your mouth water,” Obolsky said.

RBB will be opening in three weeks at 87-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd, an 800-square-foot space that will also accommodate locals with nooks to sit. Obolsky said that all the furniture was made by local Rockaway artists.

Each day, the bakery will feature a wide variety of pastries such as freshly made breads, cookies, cakes, panna cotta, lunch offerings on homemade bread, and of course, dog treats. As for beverages, RBB will have La Colombe drip coffee, teas, fresh juice beverages based on seasonality such as raspberry lemonade and citrus-celery coolers to name a few.

Obolsky said that most of her ingredients are locally sourced from Edgemere Farm and the Food Co-op. Also, she will be growing some of the things that will complement her treats such as arugula for sandwiches and herbs for pastries and focaccia toppings.

“Each day will offer a different experience, based on what I get inspired to do on a given day,” Obolsky said. “I really want to present fun favorites for those who have been so loyal following me in Rockaway, and for new faces who want to indulge in the RBB experience.”

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