Down on the Lower East Side, a ways from the basketball courts, and in the basement kitchen of a pub on Allen Street is a delicious secret. During regular business hours, the Hill & Dale Bar functions as any normal bar would (ie:booths of patrons, booze, etc.), but during the day when the bar is closed to all, it’s a hub for the cake and truffle business Mini Melanie.
It sounds like a covert operation for something so celebratory, but when we visited and spoke to Melanie Moss, founder and confectionary mind behind Mini Melanie, it made it feel more like a hidden gem.
“It’s brought us closer to our customers,” Moss said. “We’re able to hold tastings, meet clients, and it allows us to accommodate requests for larger orders— in business, you don’t want to say no to that, so that was a sign we needed a bigger space.”
Take one bite of a truffle or a slice of cake, and there’s really no question as to why the business, which started in November 2014 in the famous Hot Bread Kitchen, has grown so fast, earning nods like a spot in the New York City 2016 Michelin Guide and a feature on NBC’s “New York Live.”
Everything’s made from scratch, even the graham crackers or Oreo cookies used in the recipes, and it all comes out in the cake, and the delectable truffles (you seriously can’t share these or people will take them all). The recipes are part of a real passion— celebratory and sweet, as Moss said.
“I wanted to create something different and new in New York.” she said.
Like any small business starting off, Moss wears a lot of hats: fielding emails and appointments, testing recipes in the pub’s kitchen, doing her own social media and PR, and winding down the day at the open bar for a team powwow or even having a drink and a tasting with a client.
A lot of the business’ success comes from Moss and her team doing their own PR and social media— their Instagram has some delectably delicious shots of— but while her main experience is on the pastry side, Moss said that she’s sure to surround herself with the right people for legal or finance advice. But her best advice when it comes to owning your business?
“Never say no to anything. Whether it’s a job or whether you’re trying something new in marketing. Try new things— that’s the way you’re going to learn.”
Speed Round Sweetist Questions
1) Coffe vs. tea? Make one in the morning at home that’s a capuccino and then I make iced coffees throughout the day. I don’t remember the last time I had tea.
2) Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate.
3) First food memory? Making plum tarts with my mom and my grandma.
4) Favorite childhood sweet? Hagen Dazs ice cream.
5) Dream food project: Life long goal to one day have my own cookbook. All of our recipes don’t have ingredients that you can’t find. It’s things you’ll have at home and that definitely comes across in our flavors— homemade. Ready for my cookbook.