INWOOD — Lin Randolph will soon be living what she calls every New Yorker’s dream.
“I love that it’s in my neighborhood,” said Randolph, an Inwood resident since 2008. “That’s a New Yorker's dream: to be able to walk to work.”
The 2,000-square-foot space on the corner of Sherman Avenue and Arden Street will house offices, a retail shop and a kitchen.
Randolph plans to offer a wide variety of treats including pain au chocolat, brioche, chocolate chip cookies and blackberry cheese Danish. She will also continue to do specialty orders for events.
The retail space will have a small seating area for customers and a large window to allow passersby to see the bakers at work. Randolph will also offer classes in the space.
Her journey from an amateur “stress baker” to the owner of a company that supplies treats to coffee shops throughout New York City and New Jersey has also been a dream come true.
Randolph’s love for cooking and baking started at a young age, in part because her mother hated to cook," she said.
“The deal was that if I’d cook, she would clean up afterwards,” Randolph said. “She was wonderful about eating whatever I made, even if it wasn’t very good.”
By college, Randolph had developed a talent for whipping up delicious treats, putting it to good use every Christmas by making cost-efficient presents for family and friends.
The first year, she game her loved ones packages of homemade fudge. The next, she added cookies. By the time she was married and living in New Jersey more than a decade later, she was shipping boxes, each containing an array of baked goods, to family and friends around the country.
“I remember one Christmas, my husband said to me, ‘It’s like a business in here. It’s like a bakery. You’re so serious about it,’” she said.
Although Randolph worked for a gourmet foods company, she never considered opening her own bakery, until her life took a drastic turn.
After only three years of marriage, Randolph's husband died unexpectedly and she moved to Manhattan. Eventually, her finances grew tight under the strain of living in the city.
The stressful situation drove her back into the kitchen, Randolph said. She spent her weekends baking classics like sea salt infused chocolate chunk cookies and experimenting with new recipes such as her coconut curry cashew cookies. On Mondays, she would bring the results in to share with her coworkers.
A man who worked in the same building as Randolph suggested that she try to sell her baked goods to some local cafes. He is now Alecia’s sales manager.
Since 2011, Alecia has grown to supply baked goods for nine cafes in the New York City area, including the Irving Farm coffee shops. Randolph also created an online retail shop after people who sampled her goods while visiting New York City asked how they could get them in their hometowns.
Randolph, who currently rents space in a shared commercial kitchen in Manhattan, has dreamed of opening her own space for years.
“There are a lot of things that I love to make and that people love to eat that you can’t do wholesale because the shelf life is too short,” she said, citing her pecan sticky buns as an example.
After a two-and-a-half-year search, she found the perfect space in her own backyard. And she is especially excited that her store will be in Inwood.
“I lived in the West Village for years and people thought I was crazy when I told them I was moving here,” she said. “But I fell in love with it. I have found more community up here in a few years than I ever felt Downtown.”