By Joe Anuta
A new Whitestone bakery opened five months ago in a neighborhood already teeming with traditional pastry shops, but that might be exactly why Golden Sparrow will succeed.
“We’ve been told, ‘You guys don’t belong in Whitestone,’” said Tommy Demetriades, who owns the shop with his wife Eleni.
Golden Sparrow, at 12-58 150th St., stands out as soon as you walk in the door.
The sleek decor, ample seating and hip tunes welcome anyone looking for a cool place to hang out, while a small play area for children ensures it is family-friendly.
And that draws a diverse customer base.
“There are a lot of people in the neighborhood I never knew lived here,” said Demetriades, “They’re young and artsy.”
But he gets an older crowd as well, like Italian men who come in for espresso and homemade gelato in an array of flavors, one of Golden Sparrow’s specialities.
The bakery also takes pride in its macaroons, a French-style, almond-based pastry that is as delicate to the touch as it is to bake.
“I don’t think there are too many other places in Queens that do macaroons,” Demetriades said.
And that is likely because a variety of factors like humidity can affect the quality of the cookie-like dessert, making it one of the tougher baked goods to perfect.
Luckily, Golden Sparrow has a secret weapon in the kitchen.
Head pastry Chef Manal Mady-Papio has been baking since she was a teenager, and eventually went to pastry school before ending up at the shop.
“It’s great. I have creative freedom,” she said, standing in front of a display case housing the fruits of her labor.
Mady-Papio gets inspiration from snacking around the city or watching the Food Network, and then sets to work in the Golden Sparrow kitchen.
One week, curious gourmands could pick up one of a rotating roster of cupcake varieties, like key lime pie, but stalwarts like the s’mores cupcake are always available as well.
No bakery would be complete without good coffee, and according to Demetriades, the brand Golden Sparrow carries enjoys a cult following.
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, based in Chicago, has a dedicated group of drinkers around the country, and apparently around Queens as well.
Demetriades gets customers who come to his shop from Astoria and Long Island for the unique brew.
Eventually, he and his wife hope to expand their business, one of many they have started together.
This is Demetriades’ first foray into baking, and he was led there by a single recipe.
“It started with a cookie,” he said.
He and his wife started working on what is now known as the marshmallow cookie crunch, and today it is one of the bakery’s signature flavors, found in cupcake, cookie and macaroon forms.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.