By Carol Masshardt
There are flashier places than Broadway Pastry and Coffee Shop on 258 West Broadway. But, as a customer, has there ever been a generation that didn’t like the storekeeper to know your name, and maybe even what kind of coffee you preferred? There is also something refreshing about having the same person greet you for years. All apply to Diego Silva, a fixture for nearly five years, who with his long-time co-worker, Bona, worked with a minor exception for health, during the entire pandemic.
“I came here from Colombia at age 16 and lived with my aunt and cousin while going to Charlestown High School,” he said. “This kind of work is good for me because I like meeting people and being on my feet, and I started with café work early on.”
After working at coffee shops in downtown, he heard about Arpeggio, now closed, which was a fixture on upper West Broadway, and he also lived for a good stretch of time in the neighborhood. At Arpeggio, Diego became beloved long before we heard of COVID. Once at Broadway Pastry, the challenges mounted, but his personality remained optimistic.
“There is a lot of competition now, but It’s Ok. Once people try us, they like how they are treated and the products are all good,” he said.
Busy West Broadway with busy police station nearby and dense housing, traffic, pedestrians with babies, children going to school, and more dogs than can be counted, may not be everyone’s idea of an outdoor café, but in summer months, the seating is often filled, and Diego gets it.
“The outdoor seating is popular even when the weather isn’t great. There’s a lot to see and it’s good to feel part of things,” he said. Indoors, the lighting and brick walls and comfortable seating is also appealing.
It’s rare that someone seems genuinely happy to see you, but this is what Diego conveys. He is often heard asking for customers he hasn’t seen, or if you haven’t been in for a while, he will almost always say, “I was wondering how you were,” and there is something completely believable that he was.
Three people in total work at Broadway Pastry, with the owner and crew next door at the Pizzeria 260, so there’s no hiding or lounging.
“Some people work for just easy money, but it doesn’t work out because this is different. You have to work hard and get closer to people. Maybe it’s my culture. Not only is there a value on steady work, but being nice to people is how you interact,” he said. “If I’m having a bad day, I don’t reflect that or make life hard for co-workers or customers.”
So, while others come and go in many coffee shops, there is something absolutely reassuring about seeing the same person who seems to know you and greets everyone the same, and who knows the product. His boss, Andy Rizvanolli says, “Of course, I trust him,” as Diego diligently closes down the spotless café after a long day. “He’s a good guy.”
Diego Silva likes what he describes as the “beauty” of different cultures coming together, and that is part of his daily satisfaction. “I just cannot see myself at a computer all day or in a cubicle. I like a close community,” he said.
Diego creates a feeling of home and that is something valuable beyond an excellent breakfast sandwich, pastry or Italian coffee.