East London’s cult cake shop — and one of London’s best bakeries — Violet will open a second bakery in Hackney next year. Clare Ptak told Eater that the as-yet-unnamed site, which will double as an evening wine bar, will open on the site of The Corner, at the intersection of Westgate Street and Mare Street in January 2020.
When it opens, it will be almost a decade since Ptak — an alumnus of the pastry department of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California — opened her small cake shop and bakery on Wilton Way, near London Fields in Hackney. She says today, at the time of opening, in 2010, a number of people told her “nobody will ever come.” Come, they did.
Last year was unquestionably the biggest for the business, when it was chosen by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for their royal wedding cake in May 2018. The accompanying publicity intensified interest in a bakery and brand which was already a cult-favourite. The second, crucially bigger, site has been on the cards for some time. “We just had to,” Ptak says. She’s relishing the opportunity not just to broaden Violet’s output, and build on the lunch and brunch trades its grown in the past 18 months, but also to transfer the whole cake-making operation to a site with more capacity, proper temperature control, and more space “to get more creative.”
Violet Corner, which is its working title, will have 70-75 covers, across two floors — a basement and ground-floor operation — and will open, Ptak hopes, from 8am to 10 or 11pm. (She is awaiting confirmation of a licensing application.) In the morning, a counter will be piled high with cakes, bakes, and pastries; at lunchtime, quiches, toasties and salads will be served; and from 5pm in the evening, “happy hour, apero, or aperitivo hour” will commence. There will be no dinner because, Ptak says, “I didn’t want to open a restaurant.” She talks about creating a place, the like of which can be found all over Paris, that she would want to go to herself. She also, correctly, points out that there are plenty of other places (not least in the immediate vicinity, with Bright and Mare Street Market literally across the road) to have dinner.
Violet’s follow-up will therefore be both an extension and upgrade of the bakery but also a new wine bar or “cave” for east London. Ptak revealed that she will be looking to recruit about 20 new members of staff and that the original site, save for the cake-making move, will remain unchanged in the short-term. (In the medium, she said, “it needs a break, it needs a new pair of shoes.”) She also revealed that she’s already appointed Anna Frost, formerly of Brawn on Columbia Road, to run a wine programme, which will be largely, but not exclusively natural. Ptak cracks that she has to ensure there’s a space for her beloved Bandol rosé from Domaine Tempier. The bar will also serve cocktails, including the violet-coloured Aviation, made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.
“It’s an alternative to the pub,” Ptak offers simply. “Some fried things and really good snacks” will be served alongside the drinks.
Design-wise, it will not be unlike Violet, whose utilitarian California-via-Downton Abbey aesthetic remains de rigueur, not least for Instagram pilgrims. Ptak is working with Quinn Architects to restore many of the features hidden by concrete or cladding on a building that she describes as “not beautiful” and which has been unloved for some years. Original ceramic tiles are likely to reappear; she also says there’ll be some “soft edges” and that it will be “not flashy” but still “beautiful”. It will feature open kitchens on both floors and generally feel “more grown up” than the original.
Check back for more details soon.