Levain Bakery is bringing its famously decadent cookies to the Upper East Side with the opening of its fifth location.
Many may know Levain for its slow-motion Instagram videos of happy patrons breaking its jumbo cookies open, but the bakery has been serving up treats in four delectable flavors long before social media took hold. Co-owners Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald opened their flagship Levain location on West 74th Street in 1995. Twenty-five years later, they have three Manhattan bakeries — two on the Upper West Side and one in Harlem — plus a Long Island store. But after years of customer requests to expand to the UES, they’re moving their operation east.
“We felt like it was a really perfect fit for us. A lot of customers we know live by the new space,” Weekes says. “It was just perfect.”
Levain Bakery’s new location will open its doors at 1484 Third Ave. on July 17. Opening day festivities include a free cookie to the first 100 customers and latte art creations by Jefferson Lundeen-Goldschlag of Coffee Labs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, Levain will donate all opening day proceeds to Wellness in the Schools, a nonprofit organization that teams up with public schools to provide nutrition and fitness education.
“What they do, what they bring to schools and children is really neat,” Weekes says. “It’s a really nice opportunity to be able to contribute more to what their doing.”
All of Levain’s original cookie flavors will be baked fresh at the UES shop, including chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, dark chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. The new location will also offer a limited-edition menu item just in time for summer: ice cream sandwiches. The nostalgic favorite will only be available at the UES bakery.
“We’re really excited about everything,” Weekes says. “It’s always exciting to open a new store, it’s like a new baby.”
The new location will also feature a mural of the UES, painted by the owners’ longtime friend, Matt Meyer, and designed by Libby Vanderploeg.
"It’s a massive mural. It incorporates how we’d like to fit into the community. It’s really beautiful,” Weekes says. “We have a relationship with the neighborhood and the people who have helped us build the bakery.”
That relationship is nurtured by the layout of the bakeries, with windows between customers and bakers that allow patrons to see their treats being made.
“It’s really nice for us as bakers to be connected to the people who are coming in and to see how happy they are when they break that cookie,” McDonald says. “It’s a great feeling to be back there working and see the reactions that people have.”
And this won’t be the end of Levain Bakery’s expansion; a new location is coming soon to NoHo, marking the bakery’s first venture downtown. When asked about the endeavor south, Weekes said, “Stay tuned.”