By Rob Abruzzese
The Park Bench Cafe and Creperie officially opened its doors last August, but it held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to announce that it was joining the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and to kick off its first summer season.
“It’s very nice in this era of big corporate business to have a mom-and-pop store opening up in the neighborhood,” said Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “This is what Brooklyn is all about — it will never be about these big box stores. It will always be about home grown talent and that’s what this is.”
The cafe, which specializes in sweet and savory crepes as well as liege waffles, is run by Frank Settecasi, his wife Nancy and his son Vincent. It’s a project they put together with inspiration from Nancy’s mother, who is of Italian descent, but was raised in Belgium.
“My mother made crepes for us all the time when we were kids,” Nancy said. “Those were our pancakes and I’ve always made them for my kids.”
The family wasn’t always interested in running a small business. Nancy works as a graphic designer at the United Nations and Frank worked as a registered nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan for 25 years. However, he retired when he suffered back, neck and knee injuries in a car accident in 2010 and after his son graduated from Baruch College they began to consider small business options together.
Vincent wanted to open a sports bar or a frozen yogurt store, but his mother and father wanted something smaller. After seeing the popularity of a creperie in Sheepshead Bay they made their choice to open one of their own. They looked all over Brooklyn for an appropriate place and found it in Carroll Gardens.
Now the trio can be found daily inside the quaint cafe on Court Street. In addition to the waffles and crepes, they also serve paninis, coffee and have an assortment of donuts from Dough.
“This is really a family business,” Nancy said. “My father came in to help us renovate the building, my husband handles the money aspect, my son does the coffee and crepes and I come in after work and on weekends to help out.”