Thursday, September 3, 2015


I’m leaving Bradenton exactly 16 years since Rea & I first bought a house in the newly designated Village of the Arts. We were the second ones, closing just a week after Graciela Giles. Rea designed the renovation to house BONNI BAKES, which started out as a wholesale boutique bakery. 

After a while I felt isolated & missed interacting with people. So the next year I started making those famous thin-crust pizzas a few times a week. Ultimately we became a bakery/cafe, offering lunch 5 days a week. 

I've met, loved and sometimes lost many wonderful people over the past 16 years, including my own mother & husband Rea in 2003.

Lots of positive change has taken place in the Village over the years and BONNI BAKES was always in the thick of it. Join me for a stroll down memory lane looking back at some of the food, customers (many of whom became good friends) and events that make up those memories.

I started baking Breadstix, crackers, breads, muffins & cookies (especially Chocolate Orgasm Cookies). Soon they were joined by pizza, stromboli, soup, salad & lunch specials. 

I created C.A.F.E. (Community Arts Fundraising Event) where diners enjoyed a simple meal then voted to donate the cost of their meal to a local non-profit project. 


"Mommy or Daddy & Me" intergenerational baking classes were lots of fun for all ages. We were the first restaurant in Bradenton to be permitted to offer Doggie Dining at our outside patio, separate menus of course. 

I gave my building & facilities over to various charities for free so they could have fundraising events. Rick Kerby, a trained chef as well as the Artistic Director, cooked up some great meals & raked in some great money for the Manatee Players.

One year I decided to work fewer hours and invited guest chefs to provide a different cuisine each day at lunch. We offered Spanish tapas, Persian, Macrobiotic, classic French, Latin Caribbean & Southern Comfort. In addition, there were unique dinners featuring Paella, Minorcan specialties & Ethiopian. 

And then there were cooking demos & classes; customers who decorated Christmas cookies that we donated to local charities, and lunches made up solely of organic veggies from my Geraldson Community Farm CSA share.

BONNI BAKES was a favorite venue for parties, whether we only catered them or hosted as well. Various birthdays & anniversaries were celebrated; we provided wedding cakes for the two Village weddings; Lee's retirement party from Good Earth Natural Food Stores was a bitter-sweet celebration, and we hosted several Pot-Luck Community Thanksgiving dinners too.

I believe that Anna D'Aste & I outdid ourselves making the 7 (count them) colorful cakes for Franny's Quinceanera.

I've spent several stints on the Village Board of Directors and am proud to have written the Banner Grant, which helped us begin to create "place-making" in the early days. 

As a clinical social worker I was happy to collaborate with the Boys & Girls Club in writing a grant for "Culture Vultures". The 6 week program improved self esteem of the participants by creating art alongside professional artists in their Village studios. 

As an 18 year breast cancer survivor, I was motivated to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research by creating "Artsy Undies", an art show that filled every wall with locally decorated bras that all screamed WE NEED MORE SURVIVORS!!

When I found out that nothing was being done to raise funds for a local Prostate Cancer Support Group, I created "Artsy Undies 2". It was a show composed of decorated tidy whities, jock straps & boxers.

Over the years we've especially focused on exposing young children to art. In addition to housing the Culture Vultures Gallery, we welcomed young students from PS 9; I put together a summer program for Harllee middle school & hired artists from the Village to teach in their medium, and held a month long art show featuring the work of 4-6 year olds from a local daycare. The focus of "Arts Alive" included numerous school children in Manatee County who decorated the Funky Men.

People still ask me when 
are the belly dancers coming
back? They were such a hit    
during "Dancing thru the Village"
an event that also had a Conga Line & a dozen other dance groups performing at different galleries.

I've been a recipe tester for several national cookbooks & appreciate those customers who bravely tasted & rated the results for the authors. Remember when we baked our way through classic Brooklyn bakery favorites including bagels, bialys, black & whites, pletzl, mohn cakes, rugelach, babka and onion rolls.

And let's not forget the fantastic fruit from our organic
  Keitt mango tree, which worked its way into cookies, cakes, jams, fruit butter & ice pops. 

For me it's the end of an era and I want to say a sweet "goodbye" to everyone who has helped me celebrate my years in Bradenton. Stop by BONNI BAKES during Friday's ArtWalk for some free baked goods & a hug. See you there at 930 12th St W between 6-9pm.

Hugs from my kitchen, and Elvis is out of the building

Monday, August 24, 2015

Something new & exciting at BONNI BAKES

I've been flying under the radar most of this summer getting ready for my return to Brooklyn. When I look back at how much I have down-sized over the past two years, even I'm amazed. Of course, there's still a long way to go to accomplish the minimalist lifestyle I prefer. I really wanted to spend one final week baking for you, but in the end there just wasn't enough time...sorry.

Now that I've finalized the plans for my property in the Village of the Arts, I want to share them with you. Considering the time constraints, I decided to rent rather than sell. For months people have urged me to find a tenant who would create a new cafe to replace the ambience & fresh food that BONNI BAKES provided for 12 years. For six weeks I interviewed more than 30 people who were interested in renting either my TreeHouse, the former BONNI BAKES Bakery/Cafe building, or both. It was a difficult decision.

I'm happy to introduce you to Remo & Meridith MambelliI think they'll be a wonderful addition to our Village of the Arts family. They will be living in the TreeHouse with their rescue dog Oliver. Remo wants you to share his passion for the food & art of northern Italy, where he's from. He's going to create an intimate Venetian Bakery/Cafe, featuring family recipes, cappuccino, espresso, sandwiches on homemade focaccia, as well as Italian art from the region. Sounds delicious to me on so many levels. I'll share more details when they become available. 

Twinkie (my fearless Maltese/mix rescue dog who I have re-named DaTwink) & I leave Bradenton Sept 11th, driving north to Park Slope in Bklyn. I'm looking forward to living in the same city as my kids for the first time in 25 years. Although I'll be leaving a lot of friends & memories here, NYC is just a flight away. More musings next week because I really need to start packing! Just wanted to bring you up to speed. I know there is great food in your future!

Hugs from my kitchen,

Bonni & DaTwink

Village of the Arts
932 12 Street West
Bradenton, FL 34205

(941) 746-6647

Friday, July 17, 2015

Coming up for air

Hope you're enjoying your summer. I've spent a hectic month forcing myself to go through the remaining boxes, baskets & piles of "stuff" standing between me and enjoying the rest of my life. I'm here to tell you that it can be done and you'll come out the other side feeling a lot lighter. For those of you who have picked up baked goodies from my TreeHouse when it looked like the set of Hoarders Inc, look at the picture above. All of it is gone! You can see the tile pattern on the floor and the grain of the oak table...I even found my dog Twink!

I still have a bunch of household & kitchen items for sale. They're all in my former bakery building and will be available soon. A lot of people have asked me when I plan to move back to NYC. Finally, I have an answer. I'm about to sign a lease on a garden apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I'll be moving in two months.

I've decided to sell my Village property, consisting of the front building built in 1910, filled with original details & heart pine floors. After an extensive renovation in 1999 Rea & I birthed BONNI BAKES Bakery/Cafe there.

And the TreeHouse, my modern open plan 2 story home that I designed & built in 2007.

This prime location in the Village of the Arts, a few blocks from downtown, offers a lot of options. Perfect for someone who wants to enjoy separate places to live & work in the Village; or use one building for yourself and collect income from the other, or it can be an investment if you rent out both. Landscaped, including pavers throughout (no grass to cut) & room for tables/chairs or a business display out front. The fenced in rear garden has organic raised beds, space to entertain & mature fruit trees. The front building has been operated as a bakery/cafe for 13 years, with the required plumbing & sinks in place. Just bring your commercial oven & plug it in! 

If I don't sell the property quickly, then I'll be renting both buildings, either together or separately. Available in September, just in time to get settled before our "season" begins. If you or someone you know are interested in buying or renting call me at (941) 746-6647 or email

I miss baking on a regular basis & plan to get back into the kitchen for my Bradenton BONNI BAKES swan song before I have to concentrate on packing (how boring!) Probably sometime in August. I'll keep you updated, as usual, via this blog.

While working I like to listen to music. Recently I discovered a wonderful video of "Alberta Hunter at the Smithsonian", part of the Jazz Masters Series. I couldn't help myself, I sat down & watched it all the way through. Her impish smile, wisdom & musical passion get me every time. Alberta's long life story is 
intertwined with the blues, famous musicians, bawdy lyrics & delivery, personal reinvention and a triumphant come-back in her 80's. I remember the day she & her pianist Gerald Cook spent at our piano shop trying out different pianos until they found the right one to buy for his club, The Cookery. The shop filled with such great music that everyone stopped working and we were transformed into her audience. If you don't know her story, you'll enjoy this article.

If you have an hour, her performance in this video is almost as wonderful as seeing her close-up at The Cookery. She'll lift your spirits and inspire you but never leave you with the blues.

Hugs from my kitchen,


932 12th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 746-6647