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Love Nelly
Photograph: Lindsey Swedick

Love, Nelly is a new bakery with Colombian-inspired sweets

The new business comes from the team behind Butter & Scotch bakery in Crown Heights.

Emma Orlow

The team behind Butter & Scotch, the beloved Crown Heights bakery and bar (often known for its birthday cakes with feminist slogans) is expanding for the first time with a new sister concept elsewhere in Brooklyn. 

The new bakery is called Love, Nelly and opens tomorrow at 53 Rockaway Avenue with a focus primarily on Colombian-inspired sweets. In addition, it will be home to an expanded production kitchen to support Butter & Scotch's made-to-order cakes, allowing the team to have more space than the Franklin Avenue spot affords. 

The business is co-run by Keavy Landreth and Stephanie Gallardo. Gallardo—who, over the years, worked her way up through the Butter & Scotch kitchen taking on various roles—grew up in Kew Gardens, Queens, and the bakery’s name is a nod to her mother, Nelly, whose recipes inspired many of the creations. “She was very excited, it’s very sweet. It’s also what makes it a bit more personable,” says Gallardo of the bakery’s namesake and the drive to open her first spot of her own (in addition to working at Butter & Scotch, she honed her pastry skills at places like A Voce under Missy Robbins, Poppy’s bakery and Café Grumpy, among many others). Growing up, her father worked in construction and helped build out restaurants in the area, allowing her to get a unique behind-the-scenes vantage point of the industry. 

Inside Love, Nelly you’ll find empanadas such as ones made with beef (seasoned ground beef, mixed with olives, eggs, and raisins fried in a traditional flour dough), chicken (chicken mixed with fresh corn, rice, tomato, and tons of cilantro in a fried cornmeal dough), or cheese (plantains, queso fresco, sweet guava paste baked together in a traditional flour dough) as well as other grab ‘n go snacks such as Trinidadian doubles and cheddar cheese, sausage and jalapeño kolache (a nod to Gallardo’s time spent growing up also in Texas). You’ll also find summer-y raspas—shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk and made here with toppings such as spicy mango, lime syrups, fresh pineapple, passion fruit or meringue. Cookies on the menu include ones such as alfajores—homemade dulce de leche sandwiched between two crispy vanilla cookies—as well as cakes that are specific to the Love, Nelly outpost such as a birthday cake with orange and blue sprinkles, a dulce de leche cake and a tres leches version. 

Luckily, the team hasn’t had to shift its model too much due to COVID. “I do think we are very lucky that this was the business model we were going for,” says Landreth of the menu primarily focused on fast, casual bites. “It’s all very affordable but comforting food.” Gallardo agrees: “In high school, I always had a thing of candy in my purse...I’m all about road snacks. In New York, we're always on the go. Having something you can hold onto and bring in your pocket is something everyone needs for a little joy. Plus, we’re all sick of doing dishes.” She also says she has plans to develop care packages—also inspired by her mom—that can be sent to friends and family during these isolating times. 

Love Nelly
Photograph: Lindsey Swedick

The team is also actively thinking about their role of as a new business on the Bushwick-Bed-Stuy border. “As a white foodie, I think I have to pause and be like is this what I think it should taste like or did I just have it at a fancy restaurant run by a white chef? We have to listen to people who actually know these cuisines and constantly check in with ourselves,” says Landreth on the importance of Gallardo’s expertise guiding the way.

For their first week in operation, raspas are 50% off and all proceeds are going to a local organization called Neighbors Together, located just a few blocks away, which helps end poverty in the area.

At the core of the business model is love. “With Love, Nelly you’re getting a sweet memo. There’s the more authentic Colombian aspect of it, but I also want to have fun with [the bakery’s offerings]," says Gallardo. 

Love Nelly
Photograph: Lindsey Swedick

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