It’s been a business decision 14 years in the making, but wildly popular Northport pitstop is moving beyond coffee and cakes.
Flemming Hansen, who has owned the bakery since 1998 and bought the building at 75 Woodbine Ave. nine years ago, opted not to seek another tenant when the chiropractor next door moved out last summer.
He knocked down the wall separating his existing storefront from the vacant space only in the last week and will close on Monday for four days of renovation that will see Copenhagen reborn as a sit-down eatery.
“If [customers] saw this space empty and we didn’t expand, some of them would have killed us,” Hansen said. “We need the space.”
Hansen, 48, said the new-look bakery will be 1,000 square feet and include 30 seats with more outside, taking advantage of the picturesque backdrop of Northport Harbor.
While coffee, bread and cakes have been mainstays, Copenhagen sells 300 items, and all of them move, according to Hansen. It was time to think bigger and give customers a more diverse experience.
"We never felt [the recession]," Hansen said. "People still eat and we're at the low end of the totem pole. A cup of coffee and danish is not a $100 restaurant tab."
Hansen has hired a chef, who will help design a menu with the lunch crowd in mind. The morning rush could always count on fresh coffee to go with a buttered roll or hot oatmeal. Now a staffed kitchen will add Belgian waffles and egg sandwiches to the offerings.
The cramped space will also seem bigger once display cases and countertops are moved back.
The expansion, which will cost more than $100,000 and include the addition of a public restroom, also means Copenhagen will hire more staff, growing from 25 to 30 employees, Hansen said.
Chiropractor Douglas Wright relocated to 694 Fort Salonga Road in July. That set the current expansion in motion. Hansen began the Village permitting process in September.
“We hit a ceiling,” said Hansen, who doubles as president of the . “We’re busy, crowded; people complaining things are too cramped.”
The expansion is about more than elbow room. The move puts Copenhagen more directly in competition with two other Northport eateries, on Main Street and on Fort Salonga Road.
A bakery has been at this location since 1994. Then it was called Chew Chew. Hansen and wife, Stace, bought the business in 1998 and renamed it a few months later.
“We hoped we were going to make it,” Hansen said. “Most people didn’t think so – or so they told us later on. And we wouldn’t have if we didn’t change. We were known for quality but we didn’t have a lot in the cases.”
Hansen expanded his offerings and won locals over, one cup of coffee at a time. Now the next step in the evolution of this Village hotspot begins.