BY LUIS GRONDA
Rudy’s Bakery has become a Ridgewood institution since it opened 80 years ago.
The Seneca Avenue bakery has sold delicious cakes, cookies and pastries to its customers since it opened in 1934 and has become a neighborhood landmark.
Toni Binatti, who has owned the bakery for the past 34 years, said its longevity can be attributed to the business evolving with the current times, especially in the three decades that she has owned the popular pastry shop.
She said with new technology and a quickly changing neighborhood, they have had to evolve as well. This includes selling their delicious cakes in individual slices instead of an entire cake. They have switched to this method, Binatti said, because people have more varied work schedules than in the past, and they might not have time to have cake or dinner with their family.
Other new additions include free Wi-Fi to allow their customers to surf the Internet on their smartphones while dining in the store.
“A lot of people eat nowadays and don’t always have the time for a big family meal,” Binatti said.
She said a younger clientele now visit the bakery more often than in the past, including younger couples who are just starting families.
As one of the most well-known businesses in the area, Binatti has made sure to keep a large presence in the community.
She is the secretary of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, an organization made up of businesses in the area who advocate for more funding and services. She has also held multiple fundraisers in the area, including helping to feed the homeless at St. Matthias Church every year.
Binatti said she stays involved because she wants to help Ridgewood in other ways besides selling their delicious pastries.
“I’m here for three decades, I have to. It’s my community,” she said.
Rudy’s Bakery is best-known for its cheese danishes, butter cookies and black forest cake. Binatti said all of the pastries are baked on site and made fresh daily.
Although she does much of the work herself, she has added an expert pastry chef, Christina Nastasi, to help with the daily preparing and baking of their delicious cuisine.
Nastasi used to be a pastry chef at Chef of the Cafes in Manhattan before coming over to Rudy’s. She has also added vegan and gluten-free desserts, which were not sold at the store until recently.
Binatti recalled one time when former mayor Ed Koch visited Rudy’s during a campaign stop. He ate the apple strudel and nuts strudel while at Rudy’s and it put her store, and those dishes, on the map.
“It became the number one seller because Ed Koch ate it,” she said.
Rudy’s continues to be popular because of its loyal customers, Binatti said, who come every day to eat and converse about things going on in the neighborhood.
“I’m getting to be the grandmother of Ridgewood,” she said.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.