By Caitlin Gunther
Ben Wiley (Pastry Arts ‘06), co-owner of five successful Brooklyn bars, is on the move. Whether he’s scooting to a jiujitsu class in Manhattan or popping into one of his bars for a weekly visit, he’s always headed somewhere—that and a passion for the service industry seem to be his calling cards.
From his hometown in northern New Jersey, Ben headed west to the University of Illinois to study Japanese. He then traded the Midwest for Yokohama, Japan, where he enrolled in a master’s degree program through Stanford University. It was during this time that Ben developed a love for baking and craft beer. Motivated by a paucity of good, readily available bread, he spent countless hours in his home kitchen trying to create the perfect loaf. When he wasn’t studying or in the kitchen, Ben was a regular barfly and part-time bartender, which served to improve both his language skills and knowledge of good, craft beer. After five years in Japan, Ben returned to New Jersey, at which point, with visions of a small café or bakery in his head, he decided to enroll in the Pastry Arts program at ICE. After completing an externship in one of the hottest kitchens in New York City, Del Posto, he and his brother hatched a back-of-a-napkin plan to open their own business—a neighborhood bar.
Though transitioning from pastry chef to bar owner seems like a leap, the detail- and service-oriented nature of both are a natural fit for Ben. He took a pause from one of his typical, frenetic days to do the ICE alum questionnaire.
ICE graduation year: Pastry Arts ‘06
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Co-owner of five bars in Brooklyn: Bar Great Harry, The Owl Farm, Mission Dolores, Glorietta Baldy and Cardiff Giant
Keep reading to discover Ben’s favorite sandwich spot, plus his advice for anyone considering the bar business.