Big on Minis
Special to AmNews | , Kysha Harris | 10/12/2012, 4:29 p.m.
A few weeks back, I was strolling Lenox Avenue with a friend en route to a late meal on 125th Street. A couple of blocks away from our destination, we stumbled upon an orange awning jutting out from the ground level of a brownstone. It read "Tonnie's Minis" (264 Lenox Avenue, 212.831.5292, www.tonniesminis.com).
A couple of my friends told me of a new cupcake place in the neighborhood, but I had not taken the time to look beyond the few walk and drive-bys I'd done. It was a lazy Friday night, so we walked in for a look around.
I could not remember what was in the location before Tonnie's because the interior was all new and very welcoming. The well of the brownstone is lined with new paving stones, leading up to a wall of doors framing a display case of Tonnie's creations.
Once inside, we were greeted with a shot, not of bourbon or tequila, but of a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting (my new fave!). I like this bar! Rack 'em up! The "bartender" was partner and friend to Tonnie, Karen Filippi. As we munched on our shot, Karen walked us around the space outlining what was to come--tables here, kids' corner with books and toys there, and heat lamps and a tent in the newly paved backyard. Really lovely!
Before we left, Karen invited me to Tonnie's Minis' opening the following week. Of course! More cupcakes?! How could I say no?!
On the night of the opening, the place was packed with friends and family, neighbors and fellow Harlem business owners and, of course, cupcake lovers. I barely got in the door when I was greeted with more shots of some of their other flavors--carrot, chocolate, yellow cake, coconut. I paced myself so as not to have a sugar overload.
When I got a chance to sit down with the man behind the name on the awning, Tonnie Rozier, I was surprised to learn that his first store was a display case in a cheesesteak shop downtown. His cupcakes quickly became the hit of the neighborhood and with corporate clients and friends.
A baker since the age of 7, his original recipes come from his family--his signature carrot cake is his mother's. Baking was a side hustle to his day job, but soon became his raison d'tre when orders became more than he could handle in his extra time.
When the opportunity was presented for Tonnie to return to his Harlem roots and open a larger location, he jumped at it and brought the same standards of quality and customer service with him. In this day and age, you cannot open something that is half-baked (excuse the pun) to Harlem. It must be new or a new approach on something old.
Tonnie has brought a moist and flavorful product to our neighborhood that is only frosted once the customer has ordered it. And I love that one size does NOT fit all. Tonnie's minis come in three sizes--the shot, California and Hollywood.
If you are like me, sometimes all you need is a bite or two. The shot takes care of that. The California is for those traditionalists that want their cupcake to be the normal size, as if they made it at home. And the Hollywood...well...that's for those who want to be Hollywood and get into the big time!
So go get your Hollywood on folks or saddle up to the bar and get a couple of shots. Either way, they go down smooth and sweet.
Congratulations and welcome back, Tonnie!
Enjoy, get cooking and thanks for reading!
Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.
Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! SCHOP! is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments Requests? Feedback? E-mail kysha@iSCHOP.com.