It might seem easy to take the measure of Twin Suns Deli in a moment, as yet another bespoke, Ye Olde General Shoppe in the Court Street Grocers vein. To be sure, the genteel, yellow and white striped awning stands in sharp contrast to the neighboring big box stores, with their flashy, sky-high signage, and the name, while it screams generic bodega, is instead a reference to the binary stars, orbited by Star Wars planet Tatooine.
Once inside, there’s a definite profusion of beards and beanies, to say nothing of solid wooden shelves lined with decidedly retro groceries—snapped up by shoppers too young to nurture genuine nostalgia for C. Howards violet candies, or even Fox’s U-Bet syrup. Housemade switchel—that trending, heritage beverage comprised of vinegar, maple syrup and ginger—will eventually be bottled and sold in house, and while there’s the requisite BEC on the menu, instead of eggs and American slices mashed on limp kaiser rolls, they’re actually formed with brioche and piquant pimento cheese.
And yet the owners—Montana and Danielle Masbeck, of the nearby Montana’s Trail House, together with Rich Porpiglia of the Meat Hook and chef and farmer, Stacy Hall—roundly reject the thought of Twin Suns as exclusive, or some sort of gourmet haven for the archetypal “new Bushwick” resident. “There’s nowhere to eat around here but McDonald’s and Burger King, it’s true,” begins Montana, “but that’s not fair for anyone. Everyone should have the opportunity to eat cleaner and better, whether they’re young or old, fortunate or less fortunate, whether they’ve lived in this neighborhood for generations or for less than a year. And as food professionals, it’s both our duty and our privilege to provide the entire community access to quality goods, at a legitimately affordable price.”
So in addition to keeping costs as low as possible across the board, the shop will soon start accepting EBT stamps, which, thanks to new legislation, now allows for the purchase of certain prepared foods such as cold sandwiches (save for a roast beef po’boy and broccoli parm, that currently covers almost everything on the Twin Suns menu, from the “Pilgrim” with roast turkey, mayo and cranberry preserves, to the “Jerk” with spiced sweet potato, crispy collards and pigeon pea hummus, and the massive muffulettas, bulked out with sopressata, mortadella, provolone and house olive salad).
And while Café Du Monde’s beignet mix is unlikely to find its way into the average shoppers cart, cut-above hyper-regional pantry staples—like Bauer’s mustard, Koeze peanut butter, canned San Marzano tomatoes and assorted pastas and dried beans, sourced from small, Indiana farms, abound—which is why the team plans to eventually introduce suggestion boards, advising patrons on how they can construct an entire meal for under $10 bucks.
“The fact is, we’ve been living right down the street for the last eight years, which means we know practically everyone on the block,” Montana states. “So to open a spot that somehow shut out all those people simply wouldn’t be right. I don’t think we’d be able to keep our heads up walking down the street if we in any way excluded people with our concept or clobbered them with our prices.”
244 Himrod Street, Bushwick
All photos by Jane Bruce.