The Awkward Scone — a cozy Bushwick cafe that quickly became a go-to spot in the city for top-notch New Mexican-style breakfast burritos — is permanently shutting down due in part to revenue losses stemming from the pandemic.
Co-owner and pastry chef Eric See tells Eater that he and business partner Erin Emmett have split up, and the shop at 1022 Broadway, between Willoughby Avenue and Suydam Street — which also housed their dessert catering company, Leopard and Pear — won’t reopen. But See isn’t leaving the game altogether: He’s now looking at options for a new restaurant, one that focuses more on See’s Hispanic heritage and New Mexican upbringing, that will tentatively open in Brooklyn in the fall.
See and Emmett’s catering operation, which was run out of the same space on Broadway years before the Awkward Scone opened in the front portion of the shop, drove the bulk of the revenue for the company, according to See. When the pandemic hit, “we pretty much lost all of our catering business for the rest of the year,” he says. “It changed the business model for what we were going to do to survive.”
The Awkward Scone reopened briefly to do takeout and delivery in May, and See says the neighborhood responded with support. However, it wasn’t the same to try and run the business without any staff members — seven employees were laid off when the pandemic hit — or indoor service.
“We were no longer able to operate the way that we had in the past,” See says. “We needed to make some decisions of the future of the cafe, and separating allowed us to pursue our individual interests.”
After they decided to dissolve their partnership, See left the city and road-tripped back to his family home in New Mexico. At first, See considered leaving NYC altogether, but has since decided to come back to Brooklyn. “What I see going on in terms of restaurants supporting each other — the food community here is something wonderful that you can’t find in every other city,” See says. “I don’t feel like I’m ready to throw in towel yet.”
For his next project, See is leaning into what worked best at the Awkward Scone — namely, a menu infused with his New Mexico-style cooking influences — and will open a spot solely focused on highlighting that cuisine. Green chile-stuffed breakfast burritos were about as far as he could reach with New Mexican cuisine at the Awkward Scone, given the name and original intention of that brand, See says. Before it was a cafe, the Awkward Scone was a popup that See ran for years, and the concept was originally meant to reference British tea culture.
Now, See is thinking about naming the upcoming New Mexican place Ursula, after his grandmother. The restaurant will either open as a year-long popup later this year in a space owned by Claire Sprouse of Crown Heights bar Hunky Dory, or See is also considering a five-year lease on a spot in Clinton Hill. The popup, he says, will give more leeway to find out if the new restaurant sticks with customers before putting down tens of thousands of dollars on a more permanent spot.
“It’s scary when you see all these other people that you admire and respect closing right now,” See says. “But there’s still so much potential here.”