A new boozy bakery just moved into the Lower East Side. The shop, I.M. Pastry Studio, relocated from its large space in Prospect Lefferts Gardens to a smaller stall in the lengthy Essex Street Market.
The in-store menu is loaded with treats named after boss ladies like Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Oprah, which owner Tiffany Washington says is her favorite cupcake– it’s banana pudding flavored. When deciding between “lit” Bailey’s-infused cupcakes named after Mariah or Cardi B carrot cakes, customers often embrace Cardi B’s “I can get ’em both, I don’t wanna choose” sentiments, buying several at a time.
Washington started the business in her kitchen in Harlem back in 2009 and since then her creations burgeoned into a bakery that counts Lil Jon and Nicki Minaj as customers. One person she was especially excited to bake for was a new Knicks player, Carmelo Anthony, who she had to bring her A-game for.
I.M. Pastry got its name from Ilene Miriam, Washington’s grandmother, with whom she used to bake as a child. The bakery started as a solo endeavor when Washington, pregnant with her daughter, decided she no longer wanted to work in publishing, a departure from her fashion merchandising major. “It wasn’t easy to do,” she says. “It was like a job on top of a job we already had.”
Not long after, Tamika Young became a co-owner of the bakery and the two pooled their money, contributions from their families and over $34,000 raised on Kickstarter in order to transform a former nightclub into their first location. Washington considers the bakery a community-based operation, from the donations to their loyal customers.
I.M. Pastry grew little by little, and suddenly became something further from what Washington and Young wanted the shop to be. “We just decided to dial back on what we were doing with the business because it went from cakes to events, brunches,” Washington said. “And the brunches turned into lunch specials and the lunch specials turned into breakfast and then I’m standing in the kitchen and I’m frying eggs and I’m like, Where am I going with this?” They decided to move boroughs, to their current location.
Even though Washington and Young just settled into Essex Street Market, they’ll be moving again next year, but only down the street to the new Essex Crossing development. Thankfully, no matter how close you are to the bakery, you can now get I.M. Pastry’s treats delivered to your door through Uber Eats. Washington also recommends following them on Instagram to hear about their secret flavor of the week, which they announce on Wednesdays.