R&D Foods, a specialty foods shop located in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, opened in May 2014 and offers made-to-order sandwiches, vegetable-driven prepared foods, grocery staples, and treats like old-fashioned cake donuts made fresh every morning. Owned by Sara Dima and Ilene Rosen, the shop is the result of its owners’ time together at City Bakery in the early 2000s, where Dima was the General Manager and Rosen the Savory Chef. The business, which employs 18 staff, is fueled by Rosen’s creative direction and Dima’s keen oversight of operations along with her focus on customer service.
R&D Foods has evolved over the last 9 years. Like many food businesses, R&D Foods saw a dramatic up-tick in online ordering during the pandemic, and while that has continued to some degree today, the owners are highly focused on creating an enjoyable customer experience and building loyalty among those folks who walk through their doors. With this in mind, the business has since begun to incorporate new elements like an outdoor garden that is shared with Dima and Rosen’s latest venture, R&D Goods, a sister shop located next door that focuses on home and lifestyle goods. The shared backyard is a labor of love that involved construction in the outdoor space as well as renovations to R&D Foods to facilitate food delivery, all undertaken by local providers. It offers seating for 55, allowing the owners to host events like latke parties and Galentine’s Day, most with family-style plating that aims to build community between attendees.
Dima and Rosen found Renaissance via a referral from another Community Development Financial Institution, TruFund, and have since obtained four low-interest loans for their two businesses. When asked about working with Renaissance, the owners highlight that they value the shared commitment of our business counselors to keep people employed within the community via small businesses.
For now, Dima and Rosen are focused on finding new ways to build synergies and customer loyalty between R&D Foods and newcomer R&D Goods. Having invested in making the backyard space one which all can enjoy, the business owners are looking forward to this season of New York City’s Open Streets program and to potentially expanding their offering to include beer and wine.