Angel’s Cafe Announces New “Breakfast Blessing” Card

By Oona Milliken | [email protected]

Though Angels Cafe in Williamsburg might seem like a regular bagel shop, it has a hidden secret: the cafe donates 40% of its profits to North Brooklyn Angels, a local non-profit that’s dedicated to providing meals to Brooklynites in need. The two North Brooklyn organizations have partnered since Angels Cafe opened its doors to the public in April 2022. Since then, Angels Cafe has committed to various ways of giving back to the community, both through North Brooklyn Angels and providing their own forms of charity.

Now, the cafe is creating a gift card system so that people in the community can give out a free meal to anyone who might be hungry. People can purchase an Angels Cafe gift card to take home and give to someone they know or they can put it in a box to be given out at a North Brooklyn Angels food drive where the card will go out to community members. Ana Maria Camejo, a co-founder of Angels Cafe, said that the program was a pivot from previous food drives at the cafe so that people could pick up a free meal from the cafe whenever they wanted.

The Breakfast Blessing Card box. The card can be given out to anyone that might want a free meal. Photo courtesy: Oona Milliken

“We launched that a month ago, and this is how it works. So online, or in the store, people buy this card. It’s only one price, $9.99,” Camejo said. “I give it to the customer, and I ask, ‘Do you want to keep it for yourself or give it to someone as a gift card? Or do you want to put it in this box?’”

In the month since the program has been launched, that box has accrued more than 61 gift cards that will be handed out by the Brooklyn Angels.

Angels Cafe was started by Francesco Tamburriello and Ana Maria Camejo, partners in the cafe and in life, because the pair wanted to find a way to connect with their neighborhood and give to those in need.

According to Camejo, her husband first started volunteering in the kitchen of North Brooklyn Angels and found himself wanting to get more involved from there. Camejo said the non-profit traditionally only does lunch services, so Camejo and Tamburriello started out by providing North Brooklynites with breakfast. The physical store, Angels Cafe, emerged as a result.

Patrons at the cafe can also “pay it forward” and provide a free meal for another customer who comes along. Camejo said the idea came from an old Italian tradition of paying for a stranger’s coffee. Her husband is from Italy, Camejo is Colombian and Italian, and she said that the pair thought it would be nice to incorporate it into their restaurant, alongside their partnership with the North Brooklyn Angels.

“We say, ‘Why not mix it up the both ideas?’ Instead of just a coffee, why not create a breakfast program that customers can pay for a breakfast and we partner with the North Brooklyn Angels, they are giving to people and they are helping us in the production and logistical aspects,” Camejo said. “Give us like a freewheel to go into communities and give breakfast to people.”

Workers behind the counter of the bagel shop. Photo courtesy: Oona Milliken

Neil Sheehan, the Chairperson and Co-Founder of the North Brooklyn Angels, said he was grateful for the partnership with North Brooklyn Angels and enjoyed seeing young people get involved in helping out their community.

“I think the demographic is important. If you look at some studies of younger people, people are looking for a way to do good, if they could find a way to do good and eat, I think they’re fine spending $15 or an extra $10 to feed someone,” Sheehan said.

City unveils new mobile unit to deliver services

The city has created a new mobile unit to coordinate different city agencies and deliver services to those who may not be aware of their existence.

The New York City Department of Small Business Services, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and the New York City Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit will work in coordination to help New Yorkers get access to job training, tax help and benefits screenings among other services.

On Friday, The city unveiled the new program with its first stop outside the CUP coffee shop in Bed Stuy. Short for “Coffee Uplifts People,” the local storefront is owned by Breakfast Club radio personality Angela Yee.

“What we’ve heard time and again, from residents to entrepreneurs in the city is that they’re too busy to go into city offices wherever it is that they’re located. And they’re too busy to go from one city office to another city office to another. And what we need to do as city government in partnership, is to first think about what are the needs and opportunities and services that New Yorkers need, and then meet them where they are, and deliver those services all at the same time,” Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer said.

The multi-agency approach is a pledge from Mayor Adams’ inclusive economic development program, “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery”. The mobile unit will tour all five boroughs in an attempt to reach different New Yorkers. The mobile unit was purchased five years ago for $400,000. While a schedule hasn’t been released for where and how often the mobile unit will be traveling, a representative from the Mayor’s Office said schedules will be updated and posted to the Small Business Comissions’ twitter page.

“I think this concept of meeting people where they are – and frankly, even if people are in the beginning, not knowing everything that we d – I think it’s important to be consistently out there, that people will feel this perception of, ‘The government and their important resources are actually accessible to us.’ And I think that’s a very important message that we’re sending with our mobile unit,” Small Business Commissioner Kevin Kim said in an interview.

“And if you have a business and you’re trying to figure out a way to maximize things, or even to evolve and grow, make sure to go online and see what resources are available to you. Because when I tell you they have everything, they have everything,” Angela Yee said in an interview. Yee then explained how she asked the Commissioner if the department could provide help with loans and grants, he explained that they already do that. “So anything that you could think of when it comes to starting a small business or, or getting support with your small business, they do have a lot of resources.”

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