On Friday morning at Little Zelda, the mood was cheery and exuberant.
Despite a steady drizzle outside, customers streamed into the new café on Franklin Avenue, and owner Kate Blumm greeted each with a smile and a personal introduction.
“Your boots are the best thing that’s happened to me all day,” she said to a man wearing high-top galoshes who stopped in for tea.
If Blumm was exagerrating a tad, it was only because of her natural ebullience.
“My wife is the most genuinely enthusiastic person I’ve ever met,” said Kate’s husband Michael de Zayas. “Some people think its fake but its not.”
Between filling orders for coffee and pastries, making introductions, and sending de Zayas on errands, Blumm explained that her dream is for the new shop to become a social hub of the neighborhood.
“I've lived in New York City my whole life and I've never seen a sense of community like Franklin Ave," she said. "We wanted a small, vest-sized place so we could interact with people and really feel like a part of the neighborhood."
Little Zelda is certainly small, with barely enough room for a bench lining the wall and a handful of tiny circular tables. Customers had to scrunch together as they ate their freshly baked bread (from Blue Duck Bakers, on Long Island) and drank their coffee (from Toby's Estate of Williamsburg).
Nobody seemed to mind, though—Little Zelda may not be large, but it has a ton of personality.
"We want to introduce people to other people,” de Zayas explained. “At a typical coffee shop, people's heads are down, working on their laptops. We want to have a relationship with our customers and get our customers to have a relationship with each other."
The couple also want to share their love of Franklin Avenue, a neighborhood they adopted a year ago when they moved from Clinton Hill.
“I’ve been biking down Franklin Avenue for years to get to work,” said Blumm, who also works at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “It’s been amazing to watch the transformation.”
In addition to being a neighborhood affair, Little Zelda is also a family affair. The sole employee beyond de Zayas is Blumm's little brother Eli, and the shop is named after the couple's seven-month-old daughter.
“Our daughter is big Zelda,” Blumm said. “All of this will be hers some day.”
Little Zelda is located at 728 Franklin Ave. In addition to bread from Blue Duck Bakery and coffee from Toby's Estate, they serve sweets from Ovenly in Red Hook and pastries from Colson Patisserie in Park Slope. In summer they plan to begin serving wine.