Patch Covers our Cafe Opening

We’re thrilled that Patch covered the official opening of our cafe at Brooklyn Public Library. Read on for more details, and stop by for a cup of coffee soon!

“This is an act of genius,” said City Councilman Brad Lander.

Emma's Torch Cafe Launches At Brooklyn Public Library

A Brooklyn eatery that provides refugees with community and career training will be serving up butter cake at the Grand Army Plaza library.

By Kathleen Culliton, Patch Staff 

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN -- Terricka Hall, a survivor of human trafficking and the New York City shelter system, stood tall as she addressed her audience at the Brooklyn Public Library Tuesday morning.

"They welcomed me with a heart," Hall said of Emma's Torch, the nonprofit that is helping her launch her own catering company. "They make me have a family."

Hall was one of dozens of people who came to celebrate the opening of Emma's Torch new cafe in the Grand Army Plaza library, where readers can now find Silan butter cake and its employees, all of whom are refugees and sex trafficking survivors, will receive crucial culinary and career training.

"This is an act of genius," said City Councilman Brad Lander. "The wisdom of the whole world and all its experiences are contained in this building; even in the cafe where you can get your meatball pita."

Emma's Torch has been making headlines since it launched as a pop-up in Red Hook in 2017 and in 2018 as a Carroll Gardens restaurant, where more than 50 students have graduated from an two-month apprenticeship program. 

And this expansion into the Brooklyn Public Library cafe means Emma's Torch will be able to provide students with barista training — teaching them to make coffee art and exact change —and a safe space to practice their English skills with customers and at the library's English for speakers of other languages courses.

"We can open these doors to every single student," said Kerry Brodie, the nonprofit's executive director. "What you bring to the table is welcome here."

BPL president Linda Johnson also celebrated the partnership as a part of the library's mission to create a safe space all New York's in the face of the federal government's immigration policies that have left many New Yorkers fearful.

"It's not just about the food, it's about the similar commitment to making lives of people who live in Brooklyn better," Johnson said.

She added, with a smile, "And we get to have butter cake."

The menu features savory and sweet items, which will be prepared by students in a recently revamped kitchen on the library's third floor, as well as a full coffee menu, sodas and juice.

Sweet treats include tahini cookies and spiced nuts and savory fare comes in the form of eggplant caviar, black-eyed peas hummas and a meatball pita.

Meghan Dunn, 32, was the first official customer to walk up to the bar and order a latte, bagel and a piece of butter cake.

"It's really good," she said of the latte. "It's really nice to be part of this."

Lander also opted for the butter cake.

"It's almost too good," he said.

Emma's Torch Cafe

Address 10 Grand Army Plaza

Hours: 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Emma's Torch Restaurant

Address: 345 Smith St.

Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Tel: (718) 243-1222