Miriam Sy-Gorski recently opened the new Au Gourmet Café at 126 Nassau Ave. in Greenpoint last weekend.
Originally from Senegal, Africa, the Baruch College business school graduate has been in the neighborhood for several years, and also works at the Sovereign Bank on Manhattan Avenue.
“You know how Michelle Obama had her midlife crisis when she got her new bangs?” Sy-Gorski said. “I guess this is my midlife crisis and this is my bangs.”
Sy-Gorski and her partner Juan Reyes, a local deli hand of over 25 years, are together serving up everything from bagels and croissants to fresh deli sandwiches and breakfast burritos at their warmly designed café near McGuinness Boulevard.
Their espresso machine, acquired from the previous tenant in a neighborly fashion, brews fresh blends from the Brooklyn Roasting Company.
“Being here in Greenpoint, I thought about making it a French café, but then I would be excluding some types of customers who want to come here and get something that is not French,” she explained. “I want to make it a go-to place for everybody.”
With Reyes behind the counter, the two have come together to bring the neighborhood American, French and Italian cuisine; and even have plans to put in a salad bar in the near future.
“I hope to bring great food and I really want people to come here for the taste,” Reyes said with a little translation help from Sy-Gorki. “I want to show that I am the master of the sandwich.”
Set below the large chalkboard menu, the front of the restaurant is built like a café, however the homey feel didn’t come by chance.
The warmly painted walls, wooden and tile floors, a wooden bookshelf and living room set were brought from her home on Bowe St., which she says helps create a unique set for the Brooklyn eatery and was “inspired by the Château de Versailles.”
“I think that’s the idea,” she said, pointing to the newly decorated facade. “I don’t think people feel very comfortable if it’s not painted the right color or decorated the right way, especially when it’s a coffee shop.”
Asim Shahzad owned the Organic Valley convenience store, which previously occupied the space before Sy-Gorski set in with her new undertaking.
“The location was good, but we were not doing business over there because I was not there and the employees didn’t pay any attention to hold it like I wanted it,” Shahzad said.
He currently owns delis on Manhattan and Nassau avenues in the same neighborhood, and sends his best wishes to his friend, banker and new competition.
“I think the way she made it, the community has to enjoy it now,” he said. “You’re going to find you can go everywhere and there is no café like this with the French style. Everything is going to be so hi-tech.”
Ryan DeSimone who lives in Greenpoint and works in the coffee business, sets up his laptop and utilizes the free Wi-Fi at Au Gourmet several times a week.
“I live really close, it’s on my way to the train and I have been stopping by for the last month,” said DeSimone, who works in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. “They always have space to work in, good food, and I think they do a great job with the coffee they make.”
The centrally located café is blocks away from the Nassau Avenue G train and a 15-minute walk to the Graham Avenue L train.
Sy-Gorski stops by in the morning on the way to her job at the bank, comes in for lunch and helps close up every night on her way home.
“It’s like home to me,” Sy-Gorski said. “For now it’s a second home, but maybe if the business picks up it will be a way out of the bank business.”