BC Project Coordinator, Lucas Keefer, recently sat down with Emmett Bragdon-Hess, General Manager of our Bushwick space, to chat about life, work and Emmett (who was just named our March Employee of the Month!) Lucas lives around the corner from Bond Collective Bushwick and has gotten to know Emmet quite well over the last year as a result of the pandemic. Read on to learn how a simple “Easy Bake Oven” sparked Emmett’s creativity, his career and lead him to join our team!
L: What was it like growing up as Emmett?
E: I was born in Cambridge MA. When I was a kid I used to be really into baking. I actually got an Easy Bake Oven from my parents one year and I loved it! I used to bake all these little cakes and cookies. So in highschool, I took some specialized technical culinary classes and started working at 15 as a busboy for a restaurant in Boston called The Daily Catch. My best friend’s family owned it, really cool sicillian seafood place that’s been around for over 40 years now.
L: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
E: I went to college at University of Massachusetts where I got a degree in hospitality and tourism, so when I moved to New York I managed a place called Two Hands Cafe in NOLITA. After that I went on to start two new places from the ground up called Banter.
L: When did you Join the Bond Collective team?
E: In November of 2019! It’s definitely a different pace but the whole hospitality aspect definitely carries over.
L: What led you away from the restaurant industry?
E: I think I realized that I liked eating food more than I liked making it! I had been working in the industry since I was 15 and I just needed to switch it up. I love cooking and because I was working at restaurants I found myself hating it.
L: I've found that this year with the pandemic that cooking has sort of become a form of therapy, is that the same for you?
E: Yeah 100%. It used to not be therapeutic. It used to be that working in the industry kind of took away this therapeutic aspect for me so it's nice to have that back. My girlfriend bakes all the time, too, she actually made babkas this weekend. I do more of the cooking.
L: Is there anyone else in the family or your parents in the restaurant or hospitality industry?
E: No. I'm actually the only person. My Mom, (I actually have two moms) is a technical writer and the other is a nurse. So it's completely out of the blue! Also, my friend, whose family owns the restaurant that I first worked in, is one of seven brothers. So for me, growing up in a family of all women, going into this situation where it's all these guys, I was like holy crap what is this?!
L: Do you still go back to Boston pretty often?
E: I do! My parents actually live in Peaks Island Maine right now. They moved two years ago from Cambridge but I still visit every now and then and it's always nice going back to see the friends.
L: How do you compare Boston to New York?
E: Someone once said that Boston isn't a city, it's a large town, and I completely agree with that. I think once you think of Boston as a city, you'll be really underwhelmed. Especially if you're coming from New York. Also I think that the people are nicer in New York.
L: The pandemic, how did you ride it out?
E: I mean it was crazy, but then it got really monotonous. A lot of cooking, a lot of baking. I did get on the sourdough wave. I also picked up learning how to edit videos, which has been pretty cool. That was something that’s really therapeutic, if you’re interested in going into granular details. I definitely took a lot of time to reflect.
L: Have you been particularly inspired by anybody working out of the Bushwick office?
E: Oh yeah, I’ve met tons of cool people! Denise Francis actually is one of my favorite members here. She helps run this company called Foot Soldiers. They offer cleaning and maintenance services for apartment buildings. Her job sounds absolutely relentless, she’s constantly busy, she's here late at night all the time, but she is always so easy going and chill. She has such a warm smile every time she comes in that it just gets my day going.
L: Is there a favorite spot of yours or even a favorite office at Bond? Doesn’t have to be Bushwick!
E: I would say that the little spot at the top of stairs to the roof is the best spot. You can see from the rooftop down into the second floor. Plus with the way that the stairs are designed, you're surrounded by this glass tower that looks out so you can see the manhattan skyline and the train. It feels like another world!
L: What would your dream workspace look like?
E: It would probably have easy access to nature. Ideally a beach. Lots of sunlight and minimal stuff. I think it would need to be the perfect amount of stuff to make it feel cozy without being cluttered, but definitely somewhere with big windows and easy access to nature so I can take a walk and get outside.
L: Is there anything you're really looking forward to after the Covid era?
E: Going to the movies. I love going to the movies! Obviously seeing friends, going to dinner and all that is what I really miss the most, but more often than not, if I'm having a down day, going to the movies is just the best thing in the world!
L: What do you see in the coming year or so for your office?
E: I think we’re doing really well already. We’ve got a great community here. Everyone is super chill and nice. Some of them have had offices in the city and now I think people are more interested in working closer to home without having to work from home. Plus we offer all sorts of flexible spaces, so I think it's a really good place to come. It's definitely a bright future!
L: Couldn't agree more!