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New Bakery Brings Gambian Flavor to West Village

By Andrea Swalec

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — You can get a lot of things in the West Village, but  pumpkin pie from Gambia wasn't among them — until now.

Gambia native Alhagie Jallow is getting ready to put the delicacy on his new menu at Apple Cafe Bakery at 24 W. 8th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

The West African pie is different than the typical cinnamon-and-clove-flavored treat served at American Thanksgiving celebrations, with more lemon zest and a sweet and sour tang, he said.

"Gambians like pumpkin so we're going to do Gambian pumpkin pie," said Jallow, 37, of the Bronx, who came to the U.S. 12 years ago.

The pie is just one of the items set to appear on the menu when the cafe opens its doors in the next two months, Jallow said.

The full list of items is still taking shape, but some of the dishes Jallow has in mind are croissants, cupcakes, bagels, cookies, Mexican-style flan, gelato, and other sweets like peanut butter pie.

"There will be an infusion of different kinds of cuisine," Jallow said.

Jallow said he has been a caterer and chef for years, but this will be his first solo venture. He opted to move in to the West 8th Street storefront because of the new wave of energy coming to the block, which had struggled to attract business in past years.

"Sometimes you see the atmosphere and you want to be part of it," he said. 

Commercial vacancies along West 8th Street are currently at 9.8 percent, almost double the district’s average vacancy rate of 5.1 percent, William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance, told DNAinfo.

Buchbinder and Warren Realty Group advertises four vacant West 8th Street retail spaces on its website. Bill Abramson, director of the group, said his company is thinking carefully about how incoming tenants will shape the neighborhood.

"We could fill up our shops with tattoo shops and [eyebrow] threading shops, but they're just not the type of tenants we want and that we think will enhance the neighborhood," he said.

Apple Cafe Bakery is taking over the storefront formerly owned by wine purveyor Is-Wine, which vacated about five months ago, Abramson said. The 1,100-square-foot space rents for about $9,500 per month, according to the site.

Jallow is busy crafting his dream baking list, and said he's excited to introduce Greenwich Village to a spectrum of international delicacies.

"I haven't seen a bakery in that area yet that is offering a whole range of things," Jallow said.

The shop will also be offering plenty of its namesake apple dishes, from apple cupcakes to apple pies, he said.