Athom Café on Broadway at Dodworth, across from Goodbye Blue Monday. — Photo by Diego Cupolo
One day about a month or two ago, seemingly out of nowhere, a café opened on Broadway and Dodworth. There was no Grand Opening sign, or any sign at all — bodegas and 99-cent stores often open to more fanfare. But bodegas and 99-cent stores come a dime a dozen here in the Washing Machine and Refrigerator District of Broadway, and cafés owned by real-life Parisians are more unexpected. And so Athom Café, located inside a former appliance store — and next door to another — has no problem standing out on Broadway. Especially with its new hand-painted sign.
Jerome Douay, the café’s owner/cashier/chef de cuisine, was born in Paris. He moved to Bed-Stuy with his wife when she landed a job here in New York City, which gave him the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream: to follow in his restaurateur father’s footsteps and open a restaurant of his own.
Over the last several months, he renovated the former appliance store space into a rather charming café, adding a wall for the kitchen and restoring the classic Brooklyn tin ceiling. If business continues to go well, Douay hopes to renovate the back area into a small dining room, and reopen as a full-service French restaurant. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
For now, Athom offers up tasty sandwiches, salads, pastries, and omelettes, as well as quality coffee at bodega prices. I had a roast beef sandwich with tomato, caramelized onion, and cheddar cheese on a pressed and grilled baguette, with a delicious side salad all for seven dollars and change. It’s also a patisserie selling excellent baked goods — you’ll make a curious sight walking down Broadway with a wax paper-wrapped baguette in hand.
Douay chose "Athom" as a sort of portmanteau of "at" and "home," because he makes most of his food in-house. In fact, Athom café is closed on Mondays, because the owner takes the day off to hand-pick all the ingredients for the coming week. Having worked at restaurants that rely on food distributors who occasionally deliver low-quality goods, he has come to believe that this is the only way to ensure quality.
If you are tired — like I am — of long lines and surly service at your corner deli, give Athom café a try. It’s really different. In a good way.
Tue-Sun | 6:30am-8pm