Have you ever driven past Armonk Town Center on Route 22, and found yourself lured in by the seductive scent of freshly baked donuts and signature Lavazza coffee, wafting from a small shop comfortably positioned within the plaza? If so, you’re not alone…and, if, by chance, you think your nose is deceiving you, we wholeheartedly assure you the aroma is 100% real, and it’s as good as it gets!
In operation since 2004 — first by the bakery’s namesake, Beatrice Schedy, and, since 2008, by its current owner Julie Dickens — the full-service bakery has quickly become a local Armonk institution, offering personalized cakes, cupcakes, desserts and baked goods perfect for any occasion and any time of year.
A lifelong baker originally from Ohio, Dickens came to New York in 2007 to pursue her culinary passion full-time. She began her journey at the French Culinary Institute –where she met her now-husband, Mike Defeo–before briefly working under famed chocolatier Jacques Torres following graduation. In late 2007, the two began browsing ads for bakeries within the New York area.
Naturally, they came across Beascakes, then situated in the white house at 29 Main Street, and promptly took over the quaint little shop. They ran the bustling bakery at that location, before moving it to current location within the plaza in 2012. The rest, as they say, is sweet, sweet history.
Dickens, for one, couldn’t be happier, as she’s not only fulfilled a lifelong dream in acquiring the bakery itself, but also spends each day actually living it out as the “head honcho” at the shop.
“It’s a way to be creative,” she says, of her attraction to her craft. “Especially with cakes. I love the way I can envision a cake before it’s even done and follow it through,” from designing to baking to decorating to final delivery. The dedicated baker has a deep-rooted belief that every cake should have its own personal touch, and prides herself on crafting confections that equally appeals to the eye as much as it does the taste buds.
Customers concur, as they repeatedly come out in droves to see what new creation Dickens has cooked up next.
In addition to their vast array of cakes for any occasion, the bustling bakery offers a daily selection of cupcakes, muffins and coffee, in addition to doughnuts (“made fresh every morning,” notes Dickens) and what is undoubtedly their #1 bestseller: the chocolate chip cookie.
“I love being involved in the customers’ lives,” Dickens says, when asked which element of her job she likes the best. “Certain customers. I’ve done their wedding cakes, then their [baby] shower cakes, and then the kid’s first birthday cake Just seeing the families grow up and being with them in that way is very special and personal.”
Dickens also makes an effort to extend her welcoming persona onto the community at large, volunteering in a wide variety of community events in and around town. For the last eight years, she’s been providing tasty treats and beverages to audience members who attend the Small Town Theatre Company’s summer concerts at Wampus Brook Park. “She also offers pastries to our audience members, performers and crew [when we perform] our theatrical plays at the Hergenhan Center,” notes Sam Morell, who runs the Armonk company, for which Dickens bakes. “[She’s] always available, always helpful, and always a warm, welcoming, friendly smile to members of our community.”
Similarly, she also makes an appearance at the annual Cider and Doughnut Festival, also held in Wampus Park — “I just take my doughnut machine down to the festival and make doughnuts all day long” — which yields her a similar boost in business. “People who didn’t even know about the bakery before are suddenly hooked because they’ve eaten a doughnut [at the festival]. It’s great!”
Meanwhile, regulars like Morell think the cakestress is just as sweet as her products, stating: “Armonk is as warm and friendly as it is because of generous and caring people like Julie Dickens.”
Beascakes Bakery is located within Armonk Town Center at 575 N. Main Street in Armonk. For more information, please visit www.beascakesny.com.
Matt Smith is a writer and regular contributor to The Inside Press. For further information or inquiry, please visit www.mattsmiththeatre.com.