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IZOLA Bakery policy works for some, angers others

“They were paying with pastries instead of fair compensation”

Fr3sty13 says nuts to dough.
Fr3sty13 says nuts to dough.

IZOLA Bakery will not exploit this local artist any longer,” reads a recent Instagram post from local singer Fre3sty13, “as they expect us to art inside their shop for free; that’s modern-day slavery… You want to know why the nation is in this position? It’s because of establishments like this that promise to properly compensate us for our effort once they have reached their goals, but once they get that money they turn cold.” (Fre3sty13, whose real name is Yvonne, has been singing for 22 years, everything from a cappella hymns to Disney tunes, and you can sometimes find her performing at the Farmer’s Market in Little Italy. However, she wrote in a recent email to the Reader, she’s also had issues with another venue. “I am unable to share [performances] at the Hillcrest Farmers Market; banned by management for having ‘too much love’ and ‘too much soul.’”)

When contacted by the Reader, Bakery owner Jeffrey Lamont Brown did not initially respond to Yvonne’s derogatory comments about his business on her Instagram. However, he admits to seeing the negative post, which pulled on local musicians’ heartstrings and garnered many supportive comments and shares. “It hurt,” said Brown, who opened the bakery south of City College at 13th and G, on the third floor above his former photo studio, during the 2020 pandemic. Named after his grandmother, the business thrived despite his contracting Covid.

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“Recently, they’ve become popular and just plain rude!” alleges Yvonne in the post. “They don’t value their musicians that come in and provide good vibes for their clients. Every Sunday for the past eight months, I have shown up and sang to a patron-less room for up to six hours, to help them grow without being properly compensated, and many others have joined me.”

Among the hundreds of five-star Yelp reviews commending the bakery’s treats and coffee are comments that indicate musicians are indeed part of the venue’s attraction. “[I] went on a Sunday morning,” commented Yelp Elite member Anthony D. “There was also a live singer, which added such a great energy to an already amazing place. It was almost as if we stumbled upon an open mic night that happens to serve some of the best baked goods!”

Great energy doesn’t usually come free of charge. “I worked multiple days during the week [at the bakery] without compensation,” Yvonne told the Reader. “On Sundays, I was required to bring my own PA, sing quietly, and share personal equipment with other artists.” Yvonne says Brown promised her $100 if she brought other singers to the bakery on Sunday and sang as well. “Artists consistently canceled and failed to show up,” she said, “especially when they discovered they wouldn’t be compensated.”

Brown told the Reader that poets and musicians are still welcome to perform at the bakery, stating that they do get compensation, but not in cash. “Doesn’t matter if they’re amateurs or professionals,” he said. “People bring in their instruments and play whatever they want for an hour, and they can eat all the croissants and sourdough they can eat and make whatever tips they can make.” He says that Yvonne walked out of the bakery without saying anything to him, and suggested, “You should just come in and speak to everyone here, including the musicians.”

When I talked to other performers who’ve played at the bakery, no one said anything negative about Brown, the bakery’s employees, or its pastry payment policy. “We’ve never asked to be paid at IZOLA,” said Fatima of State Park, a local duo who write, record, and produce indie music at their home studio. “My sister, Leila, the other half of the band, and I love the croissants there.”

“It’s worth it,” said Aaron Bowen, a local guitar player. “My wife and I traveled all over France, and IZOLA makes the best croissants worldwide. Not only does Jeff [Brown] provide us with the best treats, he lets us play whatever we want.”

“I love IZOLA,” says Rachel Jay, a local musician. “The owners are super kind and accommodating, and the energy of the bakeshop and all the people who work there is just awesome. I did hear about the misunderstanding. I think it was just an error in communication between parties.”

But songwriter Julia Sage doesn’t buy into any of it, “It was already a no when I heard they were paying with pastries instead of fair compensation, I guess, but now even more of a hard no.”

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Fr3sty13 says nuts to dough.
Fr3sty13 says nuts to dough.

IZOLA Bakery will not exploit this local artist any longer,” reads a recent Instagram post from local singer Fre3sty13, “as they expect us to art inside their shop for free; that’s modern-day slavery… You want to know why the nation is in this position? It’s because of establishments like this that promise to properly compensate us for our effort once they have reached their goals, but once they get that money they turn cold.” (Fre3sty13, whose real name is Yvonne, has been singing for 22 years, everything from a cappella hymns to Disney tunes, and you can sometimes find her performing at the Farmer’s Market in Little Italy. However, she wrote in a recent email to the Reader, she’s also had issues with another venue. “I am unable to share [performances] at the Hillcrest Farmers Market; banned by management for having ‘too much love’ and ‘too much soul.’”)

When contacted by the Reader, Bakery owner Jeffrey Lamont Brown did not initially respond to Yvonne’s derogatory comments about his business on her Instagram. However, he admits to seeing the negative post, which pulled on local musicians’ heartstrings and garnered many supportive comments and shares. “It hurt,” said Brown, who opened the bakery south of City College at 13th and G, on the third floor above his former photo studio, during the 2020 pandemic. Named after his grandmother, the business thrived despite his contracting Covid.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“Recently, they’ve become popular and just plain rude!” alleges Yvonne in the post. “They don’t value their musicians that come in and provide good vibes for their clients. Every Sunday for the past eight months, I have shown up and sang to a patron-less room for up to six hours, to help them grow without being properly compensated, and many others have joined me.”

Among the hundreds of five-star Yelp reviews commending the bakery’s treats and coffee are comments that indicate musicians are indeed part of the venue’s attraction. “[I] went on a Sunday morning,” commented Yelp Elite member Anthony D. “There was also a live singer, which added such a great energy to an already amazing place. It was almost as if we stumbled upon an open mic night that happens to serve some of the best baked goods!”

Great energy doesn’t usually come free of charge. “I worked multiple days during the week [at the bakery] without compensation,” Yvonne told the Reader. “On Sundays, I was required to bring my own PA, sing quietly, and share personal equipment with other artists.” Yvonne says Brown promised her $100 if she brought other singers to the bakery on Sunday and sang as well. “Artists consistently canceled and failed to show up,” she said, “especially when they discovered they wouldn’t be compensated.”

Brown told the Reader that poets and musicians are still welcome to perform at the bakery, stating that they do get compensation, but not in cash. “Doesn’t matter if they’re amateurs or professionals,” he said. “People bring in their instruments and play whatever they want for an hour, and they can eat all the croissants and sourdough they can eat and make whatever tips they can make.” He says that Yvonne walked out of the bakery without saying anything to him, and suggested, “You should just come in and speak to everyone here, including the musicians.”

When I talked to other performers who’ve played at the bakery, no one said anything negative about Brown, the bakery’s employees, or its pastry payment policy. “We’ve never asked to be paid at IZOLA,” said Fatima of State Park, a local duo who write, record, and produce indie music at their home studio. “My sister, Leila, the other half of the band, and I love the croissants there.”

“It’s worth it,” said Aaron Bowen, a local guitar player. “My wife and I traveled all over France, and IZOLA makes the best croissants worldwide. Not only does Jeff [Brown] provide us with the best treats, he lets us play whatever we want.”

“I love IZOLA,” says Rachel Jay, a local musician. “The owners are super kind and accommodating, and the energy of the bakeshop and all the people who work there is just awesome. I did hear about the misunderstanding. I think it was just an error in communication between parties.”

But songwriter Julia Sage doesn’t buy into any of it, “It was already a no when I heard they were paying with pastries instead of fair compensation, I guess, but now even more of a hard no.”

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