Every once in a while, I roll up my sleeves, don my apron, and help make the day’s gift baskets alongside our expert production team: Jackie, Nadine and Lisa. It is one of my favorite things to do at work!
New Yorkers will recognize this kind of relationship. It’s with someone that you see frequently in your local bodega/corner store or on the subway on the way to work or walking on your block. Eventually you start to acknowledge each other, smile and nod and maybe even begin to say “Hello”. This may go on for years. It’s these kinds of relationships that make living in a city where people move on foot and are out an about in their neighborhoods a lot so great. I estimate that I have about 20 of these relationships at any one time.
Occasionally, these relationships actually move past the “hello, how are you doing” phase.
This happened to me and a neighbor just this week. For nearly 15 years we’ve been just street friendly with each other. We never exchanged names. But even so, each of us watched the other’s kids grow from toddlers to young adults, their dogs come and go, and the other age, too. While I was out waiting patiently on the sidewalk with our very elderly French Bulldog Lily a couple of days ago, the person who soon became known to me as Michelle slowed down as she passed by. We exchanged hellos, how’d the summer go, and how are the dogs. And then I said, “It’s about time we knew each others’ names. My name is Jehv. What’s yours?” Then came a flood of family names (husband, kids, dogs, etc.).
I’m telling this story because during our conversation I found out that Michelle is a costume designer. Coincidentally, we know someone in common. And she discovered that I own Manhattan Fruitier. Her reaction, “Oh my god! I’ve been a Manhattan Fruitier customer since the 1980s.I love your stuff.”
What a great connection to make, and after all these years. As I often remark, New York City is a small town.
Most people know Manhattan Fruitier for our fruit baskets and artisanal food gifts. It is our passion and our lifeblood and we are blessed to have built wonderful relationships with our customers across the country and around the world with our creative gifts. But there is another service our company provides for our local following that we keep a bit more under the radar, but one that brings us just as much satisfaction as our daily offerings. It is our design work for special events.
For the past 25 years our Creative Director, Drew Pleak and his team have created gorgeous, artful centerpieces for events, galas and intimate gatherings across New York City. Drew has decked out the tables for such diverse clients as the Queen of Thailand to Dr. Oz. And we’ve taken one special girl from her Bat Mitzvah to her wedding. We create Thanksgiving cornucopias, wedding favors, goodie and swag bags for award ceremonies and elaborate centerpieces. Word of mouth has established a devoted clientele and we are often the go-to source for people who need a resource that leans toward the elegant, natural aesthetic reflected in our product line.
So we thought you might like to see a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes or “behind the candelabra” of Manhattan Fruitier’s centerpiece production. As we were readying a party at a private club in Manhattan a couple weeks ago, we took a few quick snaps to show you some of our process.
The style of the centerpiece dictates whether we build them ahead of time or at the party venue. The verticality of these candelabra centerpieces required that we do most of the work at the site but Lisa, our floral designer, was able to affix the blueberry branches that drape the candelabra here at our workshop.
Off to the party with the centerpieces. Sorry- no photos of the blinding rainstorm- but here is a shot of our prep table with blueberry branches, parrot tulips, hydrangea, hyacinth, delphiniums and mountain laurel to begin the final construction.
Alas, no ladder at the venue to create the centerpieces on the tables so Lauren does her magic on the floor.
Once we have strung the grapes and trussed and hidden the wire that holds the fruit and flowers in place, we carefully place the candelabras on the tables and make sure every angle pleases the eye. We also have to make sure that there will be nothing in the flame of the lit candles.
It’s always a balancing act to make sure we complete our centerpieces with the freshest flowers at peak bloom, our fruits at optimum ripeness and at the same time make sure to vanish before the caterers arrive to set the tables. Of course, this is all before the guests arrive.
Aside from centerpieces and event design, we also design gifts around product launches, particularly for cosmetic and beauty products. When a company launches a new papaya-based shampoo, we’re there to create promotional gifts combining the shampoo and fresh papayas. We’ll give you a look from time to time at what Drew and his team are creating. Stay tuned and please give us a call or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like help with your event design.
Maybe we are biased but we think the best view of the city is on our soon-to-be new rooftop in Long Island City. Check it:
Some of our readers and fans may already know we are moving to a spacious new location in Long Island City this month. We are excited to have more room and expand the service and quality gifts for which we are known.
We hope you will come by and visit us in our new space soon.
Former Manhattan Fruitier staffer Adam Suerte was the featured artist in the inaugural issue of The Brooklyn Spectator (May 2011). Adam worked at MF in the early 1990s in his first job out of RISD. He later founded Brooklyn Tattoo, NYC’s acclaimed artist-centric tattoo shop on Smith Street in BK. We are big fans.