Posts Tagged ‘Greek’

A Blooming Flower in the Essex Street Market

Meet Rona Economou, owner of Boubouki, a Greek food stall located in the Essex Street Market in New York City.

Boubouki is a Greek word.  Translated into English, it means flowerbud.  “I had another name in mind that sounded similar but, when I looked up LLC names it had already been taken.  I like the sound and it actually fits.  It’s a very sweet name.  Flowerbud.  Kind of like my business is blooming or flowering right now,” Rona explained.

Rona did not anticipate becoming an entrepreneur and business owner.  Her education focused on the law rather than business.  In 2001, she graduated Fordham Law School after attending SUNY Binghamton for undergrad and began working as a litigator at a midtown law firm.  As a consequence of the economic downturn, the firm initiated a large lay off in 2009 and Rona was one of many who found themselves suddenly unemployed.

“When you have a ‘real’ job, all you talk about with colleagues is ‘if it wasn’t for my healthcare, or if it wasn’t for this or that, I would do this or that.’  Once I got laid off, I had no excuse not to pursue something else.”

That “something else” became Boubouki.  The inspiration for Boubouki came from the Essex Street Market itself.  “It just sort of happened one day.  I knew I wanted to work for myself but I had no idea what form it would take.  I was visiting the market one day and it all just crystallized in my head.”

Rona grew up enjoying delicious, home-cooked food.  “Cooking is something I have always enjoyed.  I was surrounded by women on both sides of my family who are really excellent cooks.  I grew up eating really delicious, fresh food.”  Now she shares these delicious foods with Boubouki’s customers.

From Tuesday to Sunday, Rona arrives at her 7 by 7 foot stall at around 7:30 in the morning and begins cooking.  Although Boubouki’s hours are not set in stone, Boubouki generally starts serving its customers at 10am and remains open until 6:30pm.  On the menu, spinach pie, a chickpea salad and feta flat bread, butter almond cookies, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake and pear cake.  Boubouki also offers baklava on the weekends.  Each item is priced somewhere between two and four dollars.

Rona enjoyed practicing law, but she admits there was one aspect of her job that she disliked – the isolation.  “The thing that made me unhappy was the lack of social interaction.  I was in my office all day by myself.”

Isolation is not a problem at Boubouki.  Although Rona is the small company’s sole employee, the hustle and bustle of the Essex Street Market offers a sense of community.  In addition, since its opening in August of 2010, Boubouki has attracted regulars who stop by the stall to talk with Rona and purchase their selections for the day.

When asked about her plans for Boubouki’s future, Rona responded “I have no idea.”  Right now, she is focused on enjoying each day as it comes.  She’s happy to come to work every day and is enjoying Boubouki’s success.

Sourtosweet was lucky enough to visit Rona at Boubouki around lunchtime on a weekday.  The smells of the market itself, and in particular Boubouki’s offerings, were irresistible.  Unable to select just one item, sourtosweet sampled the pear cake, the chocolate chip cookie and the feta flat bread – all wonderful.

Rona, best wishes for continued happiness and success!

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet