It’s been three years since Cranberry’s said farewell to Brooklyn Heights after 42 years in business. Ever since, the neighborhood has been in mourning and wondering, “what could possibly replace Cranberry’s?” The answer is, “Poppy’s!” As you read on, you’ll agree that it’s the answer that was meant to be and the perfect fit for the space that’s been nourishing the community for so many decades.
Poppy’s is a seasonal, prepared foods market, café, and caterer that’s been in business in Cobble Hill since 2013. BHB spoke with founder and owner Jamie Erickson, who explained how she decided on the Cranberry’s space to expand her brand into a second location and how she got into the business.
We always dreamed of being in Brooklyn Heights, but thought it would be cost prohibitive based on the high rents. Our Brooklyn Heights customers, who walk over to our Cobble Hill location, have always been so supportive of the Poppy’s brand. It’s been our most requested second location. Then this past March, a friend of an employee sent a photo of the Cranberry’s storefront with the large “For Rent” sign. I emailed Jim (Montemarano) and when we connected in April, he said he had come to look for me in 2021 to see if I’d be interested in renting the space. Either I never got his note or it was the pandemic, but I never got back to him. After the email exchange, my husband and I met with Jim and his wife right away. We loved meeting them and hearing about Cranberry’s 40+ year history. We signed a lease very quickly after that.
The timing and the way things happened; it was kismet. The pandemic crushed the catering business and now, Poppy’s has become much more community driven. We were looking for a second location and brokers were sending listings, but the prices were so extraordinary. Jim and I discussed how hard the food business is and he understood exactly what I meant.
I grew up on the Lower East Side and named the business after my grandfather (I called him Poppy), who worked behind the counter at B&H Dairy in the East Village, which is still in business. I always worked in restaurants in high school and college, and fell in love with food and the hospitality industry, always from the front of the house side. I started Poppy’s in 2013 in Carroll Gardens as a catering business, because you don’t need as much startup money as you do to open a restaurant. We also have a commissary kitchen on Columbia Street, where we make a ton of food.
I’m very excited for Poppy’s second location to open in Brooklyn Heights and to grow into Jim’s legacy at Cranberry’s!
Here’s some of what to expect from Poppy’s in its new location – fresh, seasonal grab-and-go meals, gourmet market goods, gorgeous catered platters, cakes for special occasions, and more.
And, because we miss him so, BHB also caught up with Jim Montemarano, owner of Cranberry’s and the building at 48 Henry St. Jim told us, by telephone,
I didn’t want to rent the space to just anybody. I bought the building in 1985 from an old Greek couple, Angelo and Helen Zapantis, who told me, “We’ll sell you the building if you promise to be good to the building.” The place has great karma. I raised 5 kids at Cranberry’s, but they all grew up to have great jobs and it wasn’t for them to continue at Cranberry’s. When my wife and I met with Jamie and her husband, I knew right away that we found what we were looking for. Jamie is a great business woman and I’m all for women power. I knew that during the pandemic, she gave back to the neighborhood in Cobble Hill, when they were so supportive of her. I’m excited for the neighborhood that was so good to me. It’s a win/win for everyone. Also, tell your readers, the 60’s are the golden years, the 70’s are for doctor’s appointments.
Jim and the entire family are in good health, he was happy to report. In our conversation, Jim got choked up reminiscing about his time at Cranberry’s, and followed up with this message for the neighborhood by email.
Well, it was a love affair for 42 years between Cranberry’s and our Brooklyn Heights neighbors. Cranberry’s started with a dream at 35 Cranberry St. in 1977 and closed with a storybook ending. We started as a cheese store with 125 cheeses (no American cheese). From there, it grew like a little kid, moved to 48 Henry Street in 1981, and became an iconic Brooklyn Heights establishment. Anna (my mom) and Jeanette (my sister) were my support team and very instrumental from the start. In 1984, Terri joined the team as a worker and then she eventually became my wife and the mother of our five children. All five children worked at Cranberry’s throughout their childhood and are now grown and thriving in life thanks in part to the confidence gained from working at Cranberry’s. To mention all the wonderful people I met over the years would require me to write a new encyclopedia volume. No one had it better than us watching families come in for treats, customers walking their dogs, and saying hello to the same faces year after year.
From the day that Cranberry’s closed, we’ve been waiting to turn the page and hand it over to someone special. What can Cranberry’s say about Poppy’s taking over the space on Henry St.? We are absolutely THRILLED for everyone at Poppy’s and everyone in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.
We look forward to Poppy’s building its own storied legacy here. Poppy’s target opening date is sometime this Fall.
Photos courtesy Jamie Erickson and Jim Montemarano.