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Itty-Bitty Franklin Avenue Cafe Little Zelda Adds Wine to the Menu

By Sonja Sharp | May 31, 2012 7:17am

CROWN HEIGTHS — Kate Blumm was eight months pregnant when she went before Community Board 8 in Crown Heights petitioning for a beer and wine license.

On Tuesday, with a 10-month-old infant and an almost equally tiny — if enormously charming — cafe on Franklin Avenue vying for her attention, the new mom could finally sit down with a glass of red wine and relax.

That's because after nearly a year in the application process and more than two months since it opened, Franklin Avenue's Little Zelda cafe finally got its papers.

"I found it charming at the same time that I wanted to pull all my hair out because we'd been waiting for so long," Blumm said of the protracted application process.

"We opened March 10 as a coffee shop, but the vision was always to do something almost sort of European-style, where you can get a delicious latte at 4 p.m., or you could come in and get a glass of red wine and settle in with a book."  

Little Zelda is far from the only coffeehouse cum restaurant to open on this street — or even on the block — this year, though it's quite possibly the smallest.

The seating capacity for the quaint space is just 18.

But despite its small size, the cafe, named for Blumm's daughter with husband and co-owner Michael de Zayas, seems to have found its niche on the booming block between Sterling Place and Park Place.

Our dream was always to have a place that was in and of the neighborhood," Blumm said. "Franklin Avenue was just ready and waiting for it."  

The most striking thing about Little Zelda is just how little it is — from the miniature round tables to the itty bitty chairs on the barely-there verandah — even the vinyl bench that runs the length of the back wall is only one fanny wide, and a slim, hipster fanny at that. 

"A small place was part of the vision," said Blumm, who also works as a communications manager for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. "Zelda’s little, our selection is relatively little. We try to keep things really well edited." 

Every single detail of the small space has been meticulously curated. If you sit out on the verandah sipping a glass of wine, somebody chose the glass, and it is just a little bit different than the other ones. The artisanal pop-tarts are handmade. There are record-scratches in the soundtrack that floats overhead.

"We're so happy here," Blumm said. "I’ve lived in New York City my whole life, and I’ve never lived anywhere that has the kind of community and energy that Franklin Avenue has. It's like a little micro-community within Crown Heights."