From far away, Long Island City's Breadbox Cafe appears to have a unique facade that could be mistaken for the latest solar-shading design - but take a closer look and you'll see it's actually made up of 1,600 rolling pins! Called "doughstix", the pins pay homage to the fresh bagels being baked inside, but they have a secondary meaning that is even more satisfying. Each one is engraved with the name of an individual or organization who has made a donation to The New York Foundling, a community group that offers tutoring and other developmental support for children in foster care.
Located in Long Island City, Queens, the Breadbox Cafe occupies an old Esso Standard Oil mechanic’s garage from the 1950s. Today the eatery serves up carbs instead of servicing carburetors, but much of the original structure has been kept intact, creating a historic space for diners to sip on coffee or read their morning papers. The inside of the cafe is open and airy but still maintains its industrial roots thanks to metal and brick accents. The former garage’s doors were replaced with translucent doors that can be rolled up to join the inside with the outdoor patio when the weather allows.
The idea for the innovative facade came while the founders of the Breadbox Cafe stumbled upon a preserved building in Jerusalem where each brick was numbered. The reason for the numbers, they learned, was that the structure had been relocated from elsewhere and rebuilt brick by brick. Inspired by what they saw, they came back to Queens and decided that instead of numbered bricks, they would line their business with engraved rolling pins representing social change. Patrons who contribute to The New York Foundling through its partnership with the Breadbox Cafe are called “doughnors” and can give at four levels – slice ($50), roll ($150), loaf ($300) or bakery ($750). Those who are on a “low carb diet” can still give gifts of less than $50 as well. All proceeds go towards The New York Foundling’s efforts to provide education and support for children in foster care.
If you’re interested in having your own engraved doughstix displayed on the Breadbox Cafe, click here or visit in person at 47-11 11th St. Queens, NY 11101.