Robicelli’s is closing permanently, moving to Baltimore

Bye, bye Miss Nutellasanga pie. via Facebook

Bye, bye Miss Nutellasagna pie. via Facebook

As we watched all of our favorite places close, we’ve at least been able to console ourselves by say, eating the pain away with a trip to Robicelli’s (9009 5th Avenue) for cupcakes or layer cake or even something crazy like Nutellasagna if we were feeling particularly down. But now we’ve gotten word that Robicelli’s is closing on Christmas Eve, with Allison Robicelli and her husband Matt moving their operation down to Baltimore. Shit, where are we supposed to eat our sadness away now?

We reached out to Allison Robicelli after hearing that her Bay Ridge sweet shop might be closing up to see if it was true, and sadly, she said it was. For once though, this wasn’t about a landlord jacking the rent up to an unreasonable figure. “We love our landlord, and couldn’t ask for a nicer guy to work with,” Allison Robicelli told us over email. Instead, the upcoming move is more about the challenges faced by anyone with trying to run a restaurant in the city these days.

“The truth is, we can’t have a business here anymore. Profit margins are projected to continue to decrease for our industry, the young talent is starting to skip NYC entirely and heading to second-market cities where they can afford a living on a cook’s salary, taxes and utilities continue to rise. Some of the rent increases you see have nothing to do with landlord greed- it has to do with paying the costs of a building here.”

Robicelli told us that while blowing off steam on Facebook, the Bay Ridge native finally copped to hating New York City and challenged friends to give her a reason to stay. None did, but among the pleas from friends to move to different parts of the country, a developer from Baltimore gave her an offer that was worth taking moving for. So it’s goodbye to Bay Ridge and hello to $18/square foot for a bakery and retail space surrounded by Orioles fans.

Goodbye to all this. via Facebook

Goodbye to all this. via Facebook

Robicelli also admitted to us that “with the shop, I hate my job. HATE it,” and that between the pressures of being a “some sort of poster child” of NYC’s foodie scene and paying bills and dealing with taxes and other costs, she couldn’t focus on other projects she wanted to explore. Already with the move to Baltimore in the works, she’s got two consulting jobs with other companies, is working on her next book and is writing recipes for other food brands.

“The Baltimore stuff isn’t going to be entirely on us–we’ll be doing the chef thing, but won’t have to worry about minutia and operations. We’ll be setting up a commissary for wholesale first, then expanding to retail,” she told us.

Goodbye to all that. via Facebook

Goodbye to all that. via Facebook

So Allison and Matt are leaving, although the good news (if there’s any) is that you’ll still be able to see their sweets around (Robicelli’s has wholesale distribution in a 100-mile radius around New York City) and Baltimore isn’t so far that they won’t be back to see friends and family. Still, even with a return to the city not totally ruled out, and the decrease in pressure and rent and ability to do more stuff, Robcelli admits that it’s tough to leave Brooklyn:

“Straight up: New York City is all I know. I have never lived anywhere else, nor had the desire to…I’m terrified I won’t be able to function outside of here. I have to remind myself I’ve found ways to adapt to all the changes this city has seen, and let a lot of things go, but still–it’s pretty scary.”

Goodbye to all them. Photo by Amber Marlow Blatt.

Goodbye to all them. Photo by Amber Marlow Blatt.

10 Comment

  • Oh no, flannel clad hipster idiots can’t run successful bakery?? Stop the presses. Glad Bay Ridge rejected these goofs again.

  • They’re not even hipsters. Theyre longime locals who tried to build their name on Brooklyn and failed again and again with a grocery business before and blamed everyone but themselves when the store was shut down by city marshalls. This is the same story as before-blaming everyone else including customers-and also blaming NYC because they can’t sell a crappy chicken cupcake. Seriously read the Facebook and Twitter posts. These people are delusional and anyone would be nuts to ever give them business again.

  • They also delivered frozen product without disclosing it would be delivered needing defrosting for at least a few hours (with the recommendation you put it in the microwave while packaged in a metal pan). Lots of people got over them before they finally and hopefully have gotten over themselves.

  • I went into that shop about five or six times and always left disappointed. First let’s talk about the owners, they were never outright rude or nasty, just indifferent towards the customer. They never looked happy or showed any desire to be to be pleasant, friendly, warm etc. A smile from me was always met with a blank stare. Weird.
    So what, who cares right? It’s not about customer service, it’s about the cupcakes. The cupcakes! Cupcakes! Famous robicelli amazing cupcakes that I keep reading about, right?
    Well, no. The cupcakes were just ok. Sometimes really cold and hard. Weird.
    Eventually I realized my kids would eat a 50 cent little Debbie just as easily as a fancy cupcake so I just gave up on them but I did try to like them.
    Honestly, I feel bad I couldn’t like their cupcakes. They get so much attention, people in the neighborhood seem to love them, it makes me wonder what I’m missing. Maybe it’s me, maybe they didn’t like my face and couldnt smile while looking at me. Who knows? But that combined with the just “ok” product turned me off after the fifth or sixth try. Although the kid they had working there was always pleasant, it wasn’t enough to bring me back.
    I love to support local businesses and I’m sad to see another one go. I hope they find what they are looking for in Baltimore. I wish them luck.

  • glad to see that many of the commenters reflect some of my sentiments about these people.

    I think they make a great product but are just not such great people. The recurring theme is always “blame others, never blame themselves”. Can’t pay their bills? Not their fault – their distributor didn’t pay. Bad rep among customers – Yelp’s fault. This one is often true but not in their case. If all else fails – blame hipsters destroying NYC. It’s often great practice to bad mouth the very demographic that made you what you are and will continue to support you.

    The question is: How many bridges are there in Baltimore? Because it didn’t take them very long to burn all of them in NYC.

  • No great loss. Cupcakes were passable at best. Owners are egotistical blowhards. Easily replaced. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • This place was so hyped up that I expected heaven on a plate. That didn’t happen. It was mediocre at best and overpriced for the product. I wanted to love the nutellasagna, but couldn’t. I wanted to love the cupcakes, but found them lacking a good flavor and texture. I decided to take my business elsewhere in bay ridge.

  • I had to leave my beloved Brooklyn 5 years ago due to getting slapped hard by the stock market crash. While I grew up in Queens and Long Island, it was the last ten years that I called Brooklyn and more specifically Bay Ridge home. (My aunt and uncle have lived on 71st street and colonial for over 40 years). What I would give to be able to come back and call that amazing city, borough and most specifically neighborhood, home again. These people are ungrateful. Give back to your neighborhood and it will give to you. That’s the one thing I learned about the Ridge.