Northeast Times

Northern Liberties Brown Betty Bakery grows with new 2nd Street location

Cit­ing grow­ing de­mand, Brown Betty is ex­pand­ing their loc­al foot­print with a big­ger loc­a­tion on 2nd Street.

Nor­rinda Brown Hy­att got bit by the en­tre­pren­eur­i­al bug about the same time Phil­adelphia de­veloper Bart Blat­stein opened his Liber­ties Walk mixed-use de­vel­op­ment in North­ern Liber­ties.

As Brown Hy­att tells it, the prin­cip­al of Tower In­vest­ments sought to se­cure some qual­ity com­mer­cial ten­ants for his new pro­ject, and he was open to new and dif­fer­ent ideas.

That suited Brown Hy­att, and her moth­er, Linda Hin­ton, just fine. The two had a plan for a small bakery whose aromas would surely draw foot traffic.

Fast for­ward more than six years, and you’ll find Brown Betty Dessert Boutique in the midst of a much-needed trans­ition from its ori­gin­al space to a lar­ger store­front on Second Street in the heart of North­ern Liber­ties.

But that’s not to say Brown Hy­att re­grets any of her time at the Liber­ties Walk loc­a­tion.

“We’re really happy to still be in North­ern Liber­ties, which was one of our main goals,” Brown Hy­att said in a June 17 phone in­ter­view from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where she lives and works by day as a gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney.

As is of­ten the case with small busi­nesses that grow out­ward, Brown Betty needed a lar­ger foot­print in which to con­duct op­er­a­tions. Since open­ing in 2005, the fam­ily-owned busi­ness has opened two satel­lite loc­a­tions, “petite boutiques,” if you will. One at 269 S. 20th St. in Ritten­house, the oth­er in­side Cen­ter City’s Liberty Place.

Both satel­lite loc­a­tions are smal­ler in size than the flag­ship North­ern Liber­ties “dessert boutique,” which makes all the goods sold in all three places.

Brown Betty was de­signed with Brown Hy­att’s grand­moth­er, Eliza­beth Ruth Hin­ton, in mind, since the mat­ri­arch en­joyed bak­ing. Every Sunday, as the busi­ness’s bro­chure tells it, the brood would go to grand­mom’s house, where they would be treated to all man­ner of cakes, pies and oth­er tasty treats.

“A bakery was a nat­ur­al pick be­cause it’s something that we had been do­ing for so long,” Brown Hy­att said on her de­cision to open Brown Betty.

Sur­pris­ingly, the rents in North­ern Liber­ties at the time made it af­ford­able to open her busi­ness in that up-and-com­ing neigh­bor­hood, Brown Hy­att said. Today, the spot is un­deni­ably in de­mand.

Brown Hy­att cred­its her six years at the Liber­ties Walk store­front with help­ing to put her bakery on the map, al­though it came to the point where the 500 square feet just wasn’t cut­ting it any­more.

Now, the flag­ship loc­a­tion is just up the block, at 722 N. 2nd St. The al­most tripled-in-size lay­out en­ables em­ploy­ees to make more spe­cial or­der cakes for the hol­i­days and spe­cial oc­ca­sions — the red vel­vet cake is a par­tic­u­lar birth­day fa­vor­ite — and gives cus­tom­ers more space in which to lounge.

Dur­ing a June 17 vis­it to the new North­ern Liber­ties space, pub­li­cist Nicole Paloux talked about the im­port­ance of op­er­at­ing out of a lar­ger build­ing.

“It al­lows us to have more bak­ing fa­cil­it­ies to ser­vice our oth­er loc­a­tions,” she said.

The Brown Betty product has grown in de­mand, Paloux said, from the ever-pop­u­lar cup­cake to the cakes, pies and oth­er one-of-a-kind treats. Count the “sweet potato pot” among the lat­ter, the pie-like square a pop­u­lar item at the walk-in busi­ness.

Cup­cakes come in vari­et­ies such as the “Alice’s Two Step,” con­sist­ing of al­mond pound cake and but­ter­cream, the “Hat­tie Don’t Play,” made of chocol­ate cake and chocol­ate but­ter­cream, and the “Straw­berry Let­ter,” which con­tains straw­berry pound cake and either straw­berry or chocol­ate but­ter­cream.

Oth­er sweet treats, which are only avail­able at the North­ern Liber­ties loc­a­tion, (the oth­er two stores only of­fer the cup­cakes), in­clude the “Apple Brown Betty,” akin to an apple crisp, con­sist­ing of fresh apples, rais­ins and spices atop a bread crumb crust and fin­ished with oats and homemade rum sauce; and the rice pud­ding.

The lat­ter, Paloux said, is part of what’s called the line of “nos­tal­gia desserts,” or items that hark back to Brown Hy­att’s grand­moth­er’s days.

The busi­ness’s pop­ular­ity can mostly be at­trib­uted to the homemade in­gredi­ents used, (noth­ing is mass pro­duced), and the at­ten­tion to cus­tom­er ser­vice, Paloux said.

Then, of course, there’s the simple fact that stuff here is mouth-wa­ter­ing.

“Very good. That’s one thing I can say,” sales as­so­ci­ate Leah In­geno said dur­ing the vis­it to North­ern Liber­ties loc­a­tion.

Paloux said the busi­ness has gained quite the repu­ta­tion in re­cent years, something proved by the fact that two wed­dings she re­cently at­ten­ded fea­tured Brown Betty desserts.

“People are loy­al Brown Betty fans,” she said.

To Brown Hy­att, who, at 33, has already made a name for her­self in both the en­tre­pren­eur­i­al and leg­al worlds, things have pro­gressed along al­most ex­actly ac­cord­ing to plan.

“I couldn’t have asked for it to have happened bet­ter,” she said. “Over­all, I would say busi­ness has been great.”

As for her own taste, Brown Hy­att is not a huge chocol­ate fan, al­though her moth­er is. To her, some of the oth­er cup­cake vari­et­ies are prefer­able.

“Some­times, I like one thing bet­ter than the oth­er,” she said, not­ing while she doesn’t have a fa­vor­ite, she does en­joy the sweet potato cup­cake, as well as the straw­berry and al­mond of­fer­ings.

Any­one in­ter­ested in try­ing the cup­cakes, and the oth­er dessert cre­ations, is wel­come to stop by the grand open­ing party for the new loc­a­tion this Sat­urday, June 25, from noon to 5 p.m.

The party, set to take place out­side the 2nd Street store­front, will in­clude mu­sic, free La Colombe cof­fee and ice cream sand­wiches made by the folks at PYT, the bur­ger joint at the Piazza at Schmidts. The cup­cakes will be made with Brown Betty cook­ies.

To learn more about Brown Betty, vis­it www.brown­betty­desserts.com.•• 

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