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!”