Q+A: Dawn Casale, One Girl Cookies
Dawn Casale is the founder and co-owner of One Girl Cookies. Drawing inspiration from her family, she and her husband have been bringing European artisanal desserts and great coffee to Brooklyn for over a decade! In recognition of Dawn's contributions to DUMBO, we are honoring her with a 2019 DUMBO Dozen Award. We met with her at her cafe to learn a little more about her, why she chose DUMBO, and the power of baking to bring people together.
I baked all the time with my grandmother and my mom. I learned from them how powerful sharing food can be and how it can be a demonstration of love, caring, and very warm sentiments.
Dawn Casale, One Girl Cookies
Where are you from and how did you end up working in DUMBO?
I’m originally from Westchester. My husband and I moved to Cobble Hill, and opened One Girl Cookies there. After it had been open 5 or 6 years, we decided to expand to DUMBO, because we felt that Dumbo was in the same place that Cobble Hill had been in when we moved. It felt right.
How is DUMBO different from your other locations?
Totally different! We try to make each location fit into the landscape that we are putting it in. Our Cobble Hill location, which is in brownstone Brooklyn, is quaint. It’s like a little jewel box, much more intimate. Here in DUMBO, this spot fits into its neighborhood with lots of space and glass embracing the outside, because the natural landscape is such a draw, and so beautiful and striking.
What do you like about this DUMBO location?
I love this location; it’s the most exciting, the most vibrant. There’s always a lot going on at all times. You can meet all kinds of very interesting people here. And the DUMBO neighborhood is just an amazing space. A lot of that is because of the DUMBO BID; I think the programming and the types of attractions that you bring to the neighborhood make it a great place to be, and that positively affects my business.
How did you get into baking? Who taught you?
I come from a big Italian family; it’s very much a part of what I do. Food is strongly attached to every memory I have as a young girl. When I think of Christmas I don’t think of the Christmas gifts as much as what we eat on Christmas eve, what we still eat, the feast of seven fishes and all that. I baked all the time with my grandmother and my mom, and I really think I learned from them how powerful sharing food can be and how it can be a demonstration of love, caring, and very warm sentiments.
What is DUMBO's favorite cafe item?
Whoopie Pies are very popular, DUMBOnians purchased 27,000 of them last year! They like to accompany those whoopies with cold brew (with our iced coffee cubes, of course!). Last year we served just under 11,500 cold brews!
What's next for One Girl Cookies?
This year we are focusing on bringing our customer service to the next level, as well as expanding to corporate catering. We are also looking at renting out our cafes for events and promoting our dessert tables and party favor boxes.
I love this location; it’s the most exciting, the most vibrant.
What are you most proud of as a business owner?
Being a part of our customer's celebrations...both big & small. That's really special.
How do you see baking as a tool for building better neighborhoods?
I think that a café or coffee shop is a natural meeting place, and people can use the space to come together and build relationships. My staff can really foster those relationships. As they talk to a customer, there might be something that reminds them of someone else, maybe there is some connection there. We’ve had one couple meet at our Cobble Hill location and get married! When you are here, you’re eating tasty baked goods, there are good vibes and good energy to get people in a good mood, and that fosters opportunities for people to connect.
What is your favorite spot to enjoy your cookies in DUMBO?
I love DUMBO; I really do love DUMBO! I love the waterfront, my favorite area is Main Street Park behind the dog run, I think it’s a very interesting landscape and I love how it is situated. As far as other places I like to go, I love to go to Smile To Go, they have one of my favorite sandwiches. We do sandwiches here too but sometimes I need a little change, and that is my go to. I also like going to Seamores, it’s a good place for after work drinks or to meet someone for lunch.