Business & Finance

Willow & Olivia Hosts Successful Grand Opening Amid Dreary Weather

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Gia Garcia, center, is joined by West Orange dignitaries at the ribbon cutting ceremony for her new bakery, Willow & Olivia, on Main Street. Credits: Clare Silvestri
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A crowd attends the grand opening of Willow & Olivia bakery on Main Street, West Orange on Saturday, May 19. Credits: Bianca Prieto
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WEST ORANGE, NJ - Main Street became a bit more magical on Saturday when a new boutique bakery officially opened its doors for business in West Orange.

Willow & Olivia Dessert Café opened its first storefront at 255 Main Street.The bakery was a year in the making and a dream come true for owner, baker and self-appointed "founding fairy" Gia Garcia.

“I wanted a place that was elegant, but had a magical feeling,” Garcia said. “Saturday marks the start of a long journey.”

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Despite the dreary weather, the line inside the restaurant was nearly out the door for most of the afternoon. Two white tents sheltered anyone who lingered outside the bakery door. A week prior at the soft opening, crowds lined the block for the duration of the event and the entire bakery sold out before it was over.

On Saturday, customers snapped up cookies, cakes and macaroons.

“I’m here to support another business owner on Main Street,” said Josefina Stevens, who co-owns City Workshop Men’s Supply Company at 271 Main Street. “It’s very important that we support each other. [Garcia] makes amazing desserts.”

Stevens and her husband opened their clothing shop more than two years ago and said they are happy to see Main Street starting to pick up.

“The shop is adorable and the product is phenomenal,” Stevens said. “It’s a plus for the whole community.”

New businesses are quickly popping up along Main Street, according to Megan Brill, executive director of the Downtown West Orange Alliance.

“Main Street is the place to be,” Brill said. “We are excited that downtown now has a coffee shop.”

Garcia, a West Orange resident, scouted several places in township before deciding on the location across the street from the new Community House gym and Rite Aid. The foot traffic is what sold her on it, she said.

Next door at the Vienna The Music School, parents drop off kids for a 30-minute lesson. Now, instead of waiting in the car or elsewhere, they can grab coffee and a treat at the bakery. Hundreds of people are frequenting the new Community House gym, and Brill said that crowd will very likely stop in to grab something before or afterward.

Garcia spent the past year renovating the space and making it ready for her “magical fairy-themed” bakery. The names Willow and Olivia are from her childhood, when Garcia had two imaginary friends with those names, she said.

When she became pregnant, she hoped for a girl to be named Willow Olivia, but instead she had a boy. After becoming a mother, Garcia left her job and began baking full-time.

She took a leap and began making plans to open the storefront about a year ago. Then, seven months ago, she had a baby girl and named her Willow Olivia.

Willow & Olivia is Main Street’s third bakery, joining the long-established Supreme Bakery and the relatively new Sweet Garden Bake Shop.

“We are an old-school, small-batch bakery known for our classic cupcakes, custom and signature cake truffle, cakes, mini-cakes, French macaroons, alcoholic pastries and special occasion cakes,” Garcia said.

The bakery will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers can find parking along the street or in the CVS lot, opposite the Community House.

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