Astoria residents will soon have a new place to find their favorite breakfast foods starting June 20.
Joe DeMato, a Bayside native, is bringing his version of breakfast and brunch to Astoria’s Athens Square Park in the form of The Breakfast Shack, a food truck serving everything from staples like pancakes, omelettes, French toast and home fries, to specialty items such as bourbon-braised short ribs over cheesy jalapeno grits.
The St. John’s graduate become interested in cooking at a young age. He helped his mother and grandmothers in the kitchen and decided in high school to pursue a culinary degree.
DeMato was initially dissuaded from going to culinary school by his cousin, a sous chef who told him there would be “long hours, low pay and I would never see my family or friends or have a social life.” But after a year and a half as an English major, DeMato decided to ignore his cousin’s advice and enrolled in the hospitality program at St. John’s.
After spending seven years in the food business, mostly at The Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, DeMato decided to strike out on his own.
“I had always been interested in owning my own business,” DeMato said. “I was always into the cabaret scene. If something were to come my way, in terms of having some kind of entrepreneurship in the food and beverage industry, I wanted to take it.”
DeMato is now licensed to operate The Breakfast Shack on the corner of 30th Street and 30th Avenue at Athens Square Park seven days a week.
Though DeMato looked at parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, he choose Astoria because of his family’s strong connection to the neighborhood.
“We decided on Queens and Astoria in particular because my parents were born and raised there, my grandparents were born and raised there and my great-grandparents emigrated there,” DeMato said.
Specialty items, such as maple chicken hash Benedict with cottage bacon and a creamy pesto, will only be served on Sundays, when the truck will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Breakfast Shack will operate Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.
DeMato will purchase many of his ingredients from local Astoria vendors and Long Island farms. All the meat served at The Breakfast Shack will be humanely raised and all the produce will be organic. He will also be serving organic, fair-trade coffee.
The Breakfast Shack will be a family affair, with DeMato’s father and cousin helping to serve costumers. He will oversee day-to-day operations and food purchasing. Though DeMato is not serving his items in a brick-and-mortar store, he has high expectations for the future of the food truck and wants to use his experience at The Carlyle to create an elevated food experience.
DeMato said he is most looking forward to “being a part of the Astoria community and sharing my love for breakfast with the neighborhood.”
“Our mantra is ‘We believe in breakfast’ and we truly believe Astoria is the perfect home for The Breakfast Shack,” he added.