Feed the Bloggers: Gypsy Spirit Niki Gillota Knows Beans, Baking and Entrepreneurship

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 04/19/2007 - 01:48.

Wow is NEO lucky to have Niki Gillota here. I sensed that, in a small way, when I saw there was a grand new "coffee house" opening in my neighborhood, which melds Ohio City with Detroit Shoreway and Lakewood - Gypsy Beans and Bakery, the under construction signage said. For months, I watched and waited to get my free wifi, coffee and little snacks that are typical of little java joints, much needed in this part of town. When Gypsy finally opened, I appreciated the bright, fresh ambiance and quality coffee... but I didn't connect the place with regional transformation. Then, I learned the owner, Niki Gillota, is related to Independent Pictures' Bernadette Gillota, and I knew there was something special here... innovation runs in that family. Then I heard what high regard REALNEO's Derek Arnold has for Niki, and I realizing this Gypsy is about more than beans. So, when Derek said Niki was being featured on "Meet the Bloggers" today, I stopped by to get the whole story, and it is spectacular.

It turns out that, hidden behind the counter of this unpretentious high-end cafe/bistro, proudly wearing the chef's coat of a culinary master, is a sophisticated and ingenious entrepreneur with more energy and better instincts than any business person I've met in Cleveland in ages. She reminds me of the best of the open source technology entrepreneurs in the world, who dig deep into their vast understanding of code and applications and create functional masterpieces, 18 hours a day 7 days a week. Niki does that in the global domain of cuisine, and the combined result of elegant bites and successful business are remarkable, and getting notice... Gypsy Beans is the hottest spot in town, and deservedly so.

Adding to a renaissance that is making Detroit-Superior one of the most livable areas in the region, Gypsy Beans and Bakery brings a fresh quality to the neighborhood that is more San Francisco than Cleveland... the best of North Beach on our North Shore. I believe Gypsy's Euro-Cosmo-NEO dynamic comes from Niki's deep family roots and regional and global perspectives on business and her trade. The name Gypsy and many of her culinary approaches came to her travels in Europe, but she is a graduate of Hocking College's Culinary Arts Program, in Ohio, and worked 5 years at Talkies, in Ohio City, before going out on her own. All that combined seems to have made her a perfectionist who is sincerely devoted to fine food, serving people well, and sharing the good experience found in that with her co-workers and as many other people as she may.

For the Meet the Bloggers today, Niki filled the large table in the private room at Gypsy with selections from her spring menu of astoundingly great food - host George Nemeth could barely fit his microphones into the spread. Every preparation was as good as is possible... a Salad Nicoise (one of my favorite dishes) that was straight from the south of France - a Hummus preparation that was astounding - perfect Carpaccio with perfect salad - spiced tofu preparations that made me (and Tim Ferris) really appreciate tofu for the very first time in our lives. And, her baking is extraordinary as well... croissants, muffins, cookies, cakes... just excellent. Niki describes her approach to cooking like a great artist describes her work... worldly and textural, blending diverse flavors, tones and consistencies to explore the powers of fresh, extraordinary ingredients in harmonious yet creative ways. And, her palate and style is huge... while some dishes are pure classicism others are avant garde, and all have a unique signature of the artist herself, the creator.

George certainly put it well when he said something like "we need 1,000 more Niki Gillotas in NEO"... working 90 hour weeks to bring great products, services, energy, character, quality and innovation to our region. I've found my new favorite place to meet-up and hang and eat out in NEO, and one of my favorite entrepreneurs, and I encourage others to share the experiences... see you there. Gypsy Beans and Bakery is found at 6425 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, Ohio... http://gypsybeans.com/

My first...

This was my first entire MTB and...wow.  Normally, I just get a muffin or a scone to go with the coffee.  This is...well, wow!

 I first encountered Niki from her days at Talkies in Ohio City.  It was always just a tad more comfortable with her around.  Even when she got into baking and came around occasionally, there was something  comfortable about her presence. 
I am glad she has her own place because that spirit permeates the establishment.  The baristas are fun and down-to-earth and they provide great service. Even the off-duty employees who are just hanging out after their shift are cool (the fact that they don't bolt as soon as their shift's done says something as well). All of my Cleveland peeps will know about this place.

I challenged myself last night and tried some things that I wouldn't normally try and I was rewarded with some very wonderful tastes that were foreign yet enticing.

Derek Arnold - http://subsetofderek.blogspot.com

really good, and good for you

Nice work, guys. The one thing Gloria and I really appreciated, outside of the fact that it was just plain good food and great combinations, was the fact that it was also healthy food and good for us--no preservatives, fillers, additives, and so forth. It might have been our imaginations working overtime, but we actually felt better than we'd felt in months and had more energy.