Picture a wintry day in Brooklyn: snow-covered sidewalks, a cold wind turning kids’ cheeks pink, everyone bundled up in mittens and scarves. There’s something about hot chocolate that fits perfectly with that image, thawing out even the most hardened New Yorker. And it’s that cozy atmosphere — and, of course, hot chocolate — that Winter Warmers is hoping to provide to Park Slope this cold-weather season.
Taking over the People’s Pops space at 808 Union Street, near 7th Ave, which has closed already after its annual summer run, Winter Warmers is from two friends in the restaurant business, Eric Holstein and Madison Gouzie. Eric, a restaurant consultant, and Madison, a bartender, were trying to think of a concept that had the same feel of an ice cream shop, but that would work in the winter.
“We’re aiming for that sentimental, light-hearted feeling in the winter,” Eric tells us. “The big thing is the atmosphere. We want it to be fun, nothing stuffy or dim, and definitely good for kids.”
Since both of them are big apple cider fans, they worked from there, building a menu around tasty and comforting drinks and snacks. Winter Warmers will serve one or two types of cider, a couple kinds of hot chocolate, and a make-your-own s’mores bar. That will feature homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, plus a ton of toppings, with recipes developed by Maggie Rogers, the baker behind pastries at Pushcart Coffee (that’s a strawberry marshmallow, Andes mints, and crushed walnuts test s’more pictured above). You’ll be able to eat in or take out, and they’re looking at the possibility of delivery and maybe even a cart to take to Prospect Park. They’ll ease into all of it, trying things out to make sure the concept works.
“For example, we’ve been testing a lot of recipes,” Eric says. “After the last testing, all our hands were covered in marshmallows, which led to the realization that we are going to need wet naps! Don’t worry, we’ll have lots of them.”
Eric is looking forward to sharing Winter Warmers with his new neighborhood — a New York native, he moved to Park Slope a few months ago from Williamsburg.
“My biggest worry when I moved was that I used to live right near a dog-friendly bar, and I thought I’d be losing that,” he says. “But I’ve already found a couple here, which I love.”
You can welcome Eric, Madison, and Winter Warmers to the neighborhood when they open on Thursday, October 31. Launching on Halloween, they’ll be open and serving free samples and taking your suggestions on what you’d like to see in the shop.