Deli-aster! Robicelli’s closes in new cupcake push

The Brooklyn Paper
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The minds behind Robicelli’s Gourmet Market in Bay Ridge have decided to close their beloved Third Avenue store so they can go national with their even-more-beloved cupcakes.

Despite rave reviews and a dedicated following of foodies who flocked to their high-end deli, Allison and Matt Robicelli will shutter their year-old eatery on Sunday to fully devote themselves to the wholesale cupcake market.

Like the delectable frosting on her and her husband’s baked goods, Allison Robicelli called the decision to close “bittersweet.”

“We were at a fork in the road: we could either go the route of taking our products — which had become phenomenally successful — and running with them, or continue going with the store,” she said. “In the end, it made better sense for our family and our own sanity to let the store go.”

Like all too many Brooklyn food industry entrepreneurs, the Robicellis learned that running a retail business wasn’t living the so-called dream. But the hung on, mostly because of the reputation their cupcakes provided them. Even before launching the wholesale operation, the couple received cupcake orders from as far away as California, Washington and Manhattan.

“I’ve got people all over the city saying, ‘I want these cupcakes!’ but they’re not going to travel down to Bay Ridge to get them,” said Robicelli, whose wholesale operation will bring the gourmet mini-cakes to high-end cafes around the city.

“If we were going to start compromising the quality and mass produce, we could have [kept the store open], but we weren’t willing to sacrifice,” added Robicelli, who hopes the closure of the retail space will allow her to spend more time with her boys, aged 2 1/2 and 15 months.

Over the weekend, news of the closure rocked the Bay Ridge Talk message board — which is perhaps the epicenter of the eatery’s rabid fanbase.

“Sorry to see the store close but glad you still have a business,” wrote a Ridgite under the moniker Naked Rev. Trish.

“I’m not surprised by this decision, but this is a real loss for Bay Ridge,” said a poster named PuffinJ. “I will miss trying new things every week.”

The shuttering of Robicelli’s was even more tragic for recent Robicelli’s sandwich contest winner Sarah Zorn, who was supposed to be awarded a free sandwich every week for a year and have her own unbelievably tasty sandwich — a concoction of prosciutto, roasted tomato and eggplant, Brie, and a balsamic reduction atop ciabatta dubbed “The Main Ingredient” after her food podcast site — added to Robicelli’s menu.

“I was devastated when I heard the news, truly,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Not because of the free sandwiches (which of course, would have been awesome), or the sandwich named after me (again, awesome), but because, for the last year, Robicelli’s has been like my food geek version of ‘Cheers.’

“The closing of Robicelli’s is going to leave a tremendous void in this neighborhood … but although I mourn as a customer (and friend), I am confident that Matt and Allison will find well earned success in their new wholesale venture,” she continued. “And they can bet that I’ll be chasing down their cupcakes all over town!”

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

jessica from bay ridge says: they are closing their poor excuse of a market to launch a cupcake wholesale operation!...funny cause we think their cupcakes actually suckkkk!...they were worse than their food platters.
Oct. 21, 2009, 10:06 am
Beth from bay ridge says:
I think their cupcakes are awesome, but it was obvious that is what was keeping them in business. Bay Ridgeites clearly didn't want to pay Robicelli's high prices for their so-called "market" items.
Oct. 21, 2009, 10:30 am
lisa from bay ridge says:
And they are distributing them where? Park Slope?
Oct. 21, 2009, 12:28 pm
Tori from Bay Ridge says:
Jessica, you obviously have to work for Little cupcake, because Robicelli's cupcakes are by far the best in the city. They were one of the only bright spots I have found in this neighborhood since I moved here. I guess it was too much to ask that they would stick around in this backwards neighborhood. Guess it's more cheap excuses for food for us from now on.
Oct. 21, 2009, 12:34 pm
Wednesday from Bay Ridge says:
Their cupcakes are overrated, and their products are way overpriced for the neighborhood, despite being a fan of most of what they carry. The last time I tried one of their cupcakes - hoping to give them the benefit of the doubt, again - the icing was hard as a rock and tasted like I was eating straight butter. The cake was not just moist -- it was downright WET. Two friends got the same thing and we all had to throw them away. I don't get what everyone is raving about in this neighborhood! My mother was a baker; I know from good cupcakes. Robicelli's are not it. Just my opinion.
Oct. 21, 2009, 1:24 pm
Willow from Park Slope says:
When I was growing up in Bay Ridge, I noticed that when places got attention from outside the neighborhood, everyone would turn against it. I don't know a single person in the neighborhood who ever said a nice thing about Tanoreen, even though it's routinely called the best mideast place in New York. There's a mentality that I'm so happy I moved away from. I'm glad they are too.
Oct. 21, 2009, 1:38 pm
Gleee from Bay ridge! says:
Willow: Not everyone should be expected to love everything in their neighborhood, sheesh! I live in Bay Ridge and loved Robicelli's, especially their chili. Not so much their cupcakes, but i'm quite sad to see them go. I dunno who you hung out with who dissed Tanoreen, but I and a ton of locals I know absolutely love that place. maybe things have changed since you grew up here?
Oct. 22, 2009, 5:54 pm
Beth from bay ridge says:
Re: Willow: "I noticed that when places got attention from outside the neighborhood, everyone would turn against it."
But how can anyone "turn against" something that wasn't successful/popular in the first place? In Robicelli's case, they didn't have any success in bay ridge for the first 6 or 7 months, were on the brink of closing then, until they started selling cupcakes. That's what finally drew bay ridgeites and outsiders to the store. That may draw customers in the door, but when everything on your shelves is overpriced, nobody is going to be attracted to shop for other items, and you can't keep a "market" in business if the only thing selling out every week is your baked goods.
Oct. 22, 2009, 10:13 pm
Ridgeite from BR says:
Pretty obvious that some of these "anti" posters aren't just "customers" ...
Oct. 24, 2009, 12:24 am

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