Joyce “Jessie” Levi co-owns Kingston Tropical Bakery at East 226 Street and White Plains Road with her husband, John Levi. The Bakery opened in 1970, and was the first of its kind to come to a neighborhood that was still predominately Italian and Jewish at the time. Forty-four years later, everything is still made by hand — never frozen or pre-processed. Kingston’s renowned beef, chicken, and veggie patties keep customers lined up outside the door, but the bakery also offers a great selection of other items, like their delectable “coco bread.”
Why did you choose to open the bakery in Williamsbridge?
Well my husband started with a partnership in Brooklyn and he found out there was a demand for the bread they were supplying in the Bronx. They used to supply this bread over on Boston Road. It’s an ethnic business so it’s stuff that people can get from the island and enjoy: breads, cakes, and turnovers that are popular with Jamaicans and with Americans too.
What’s changed here and what would you like to see?
The neighborhood was predominantly Italian, but since the change more and more West Indians and Jamaicans are moving to the neighborhood. We have the train right here and great transportation for a commute into the city, but I would like to see some buildings repaired and more businesses and vendors move into the area.
What kind of a customer base does the bakery bring in?
It’s a great mix of people because you also have people that have left the neighborhood and are traveling from New Jersey, Florida, or Atlanta and are coming back each time they return to New York
Which menu item are you most proud of?
Definitely our beef and chicken patties: People love it, it’s an extensive meal, and they’re getting protein and carbs in the bread.