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Fourth-generation bakers Lili and Paul Fable have been serving Greek desserts and their world-famous phyllo for longer than most of us have been alive. They’ve been in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood since 1923 – originally by the Port Authority, moving to their current spot on 9th Avenue in 1952. And they’re not going anywhere, they say, insisting they’ll be a staple in the HK community for as long as the yeast rises.
Demetrios Anagnostou arrived in New York from the island of Corfu and with some help from his son, Michael, the Poseidon Bakery was founded in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.
Their secret recipes have been handed down from generation to generation, to Anthony, who sadly passed in 2013, and his wife Lili, and to their son, Paul, who continues to run the family business from the same spot.
Lili has lived in Hell’s Kitchen her entire life, growing up on W42nd St and meeting Anthony, the love of her life, on the playground at W43rd St. The first Christmas gift she can remember receiving was a princess doll she wasn’t even sure she’d get. That doll and the symbol of it still brings a smile to her face.
These days, it’s the pleasure of giving to her grandchildren that brings her pleasure. She has three sons, Anthony, Mark, and Paul, and the next generation seems destined to take over the family ovens. We may see Paul’s son Jordan behind that 9th Ave counter before too long.
Come the holidays this year, they’ll bring out their traditional Christopsomo cake, with its symbolic cross on the top. Made with yeast, eggs, butter, mastica and maclepi, more than 500 of them are shipped throughout the US and beyond during the festive season.
The vasilopita is the New Year cake, baked with a coin on top to bestow prosperity and good luck to the receiver. However, they never place a penny on top as it’s usually baked with a nickel, dime or quarter. Some customers even bring in their own trinket or golden dollar.
This tradition is in the honor of the great Greek St Basil, known for giving to the poor. But, to preserve their dignity, he would commission a woman to bake the cake with gold coins so they would not only be nourished but pleasantly surprised with the leftovers!
The first piece is cut in remembrance of Chris, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third St Basil, and the other pieces are for the rest of the family; the eldest gets first dibs.
Poseidon Bakery (9th Ave – W44th/45th Ave) poseidonbakery.com
Interview by Chris Ambrosio
This story was originally published in the Issue 12 of W42ST Magazine in December 2015 on page 17.