Local favorite Amy’s Bread, founded by Amy Scherber, crafts handmade, traditional breads as well as sandwiches, pastries, cookies, bars, and layer cakes. Amy’s Bread has a production kitchen in Long Island City and three retail cafes throughout NYC. Additionally, they operate cafes in the New York Public Library, Museum of the City of New York, and New York Design Center. With over 31 years in business, they also possess a thriving wholesale division serving restaurants, cafes, and bars. Amy and her husband, Troy, manage the company together, with Troy focusing on the financial aspects of the business.
Propelled by the dream of having her own business, Amy initially considered opening a marketing firm or restaurant before pivoting to a bakery after falling in love with bread-baking in France. To craft the best bread and pastries, Amy decided to focus on the ingredients, the process, and finessing the end-products.
She is able to do this by creating a unique, supportive environment with employees who have worked with her for 15 – 20 years. Amy is mindful of how overworking people can wreak havoc on the lives of her employees, and that a shift in the productivity mindset is needed. “I’ve tried to make sure that people don’t work too much. And I think they’ve really learned to appreciate having that time to themselves, their personal time, their time with their families, or time to go travel or do different things. So that lens of working and living is critical. I’m proud of the fact that we don’t push people to work a million hours and get burnt out.”
For Amy, being a local bakery was a conscious choice. It’s not about mass production or shipping products far and wide. It’s about being close to the customers, ensuring that every product is fresh, and creating a strong community. “I don’t really want to be bigger,” Amy says. Her focus is on quality, creativity, and curating unique offerings that can’t be found elsewhere.
Amy is quick to point out how nimble makers have to be to achieve success in NYC. “Manufacturing is a lot different than it used to be in New York,” she says. “You have to look at it like, these people are pretty creative to be doing this here. I think people think of manufacturing as kind of old school, like a dusty old factory. And today, the very few manufacturers that are still here are pretty contemporary to survive, to actually utilize what the city has to offer, and the staff, and be productive and make a product that can sell here—that can compete in the marketplace.”
Regarding support for business owners like her, Amy hopes that the city will offer more long-term incentives and grants to manufacturers beyond those assisting in new ventures. If New Yorkers want to keep local jobs, they need to support local businesses.
”What we do is very special because we all live here, we all pay rent here,” Amy says. “We’re just real local people. And we make everything here in New York City by hand.”