As many people have heard, Allison and Matthew Robicelli are packing up their Bay Ridge bakery Robicelli’s (9009 Fifth Avenue) and taking their talents to the sunny climes of Baltimore. Where might we now find inventive and whimsical sweets to fill our bellies and rot our teeth? Well, it might be that we can still feast on their confections—it’ll just be…different. I chatted with Allison about their plans and the future of their business down south.
As a Bay Ridge stalwart and one of its fiercest promoters, what will you miss about our neighborhood?
It’s going to be pretty hard to miss it, considering I’ll still be up here a lot. We are relocating our wholesale business to an industrial zone, where rent and utilities are a hell of a lot cheaper, so Matt or I will be here one or two days a week overseeing that and working with our NYC clients. We still have some new projects in development with different companies in the city, so we’re not running away entirely. Plus, my parents are here, as well as most of my family. Baltimore is only three hours away, which goes pretty quick while you’re on a bus working on your laptop.
When you started to feel the pull to leave The City, how did Baltimore bubble to the surface?
Baltimore happened because a developer down there reached out to us. We’ve seen a lot of good people move down that way over the past year and have seen a lot of the young culinary talent completely bypass NYC for second-tier cities where they can actually afford to live on a cook’s salary. That last fact means that you’re seeing new culinary scenes emerging, and developers are making calls to well known chefs and restaurant groups, hoping they’ll invest in their cities.
It was perfect timing. I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t getting to concentrate on some projects I was really excited about, we were bracing for upcoming tax increases, we were reading about industry projections showing that margins were going to continue to decrease in NYC. So when the offer came in, it was really hard to say no to it.
What‘s the last chance we’ll have to visit you at the store?
We’ll be open weekends only for a bit, since we’re travelling and taking more meetings than I have ever had in my life. Then we’ll be open Saturday–Wednesday before Thanksgiving, taking Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, then going seven days till Christmas Eve. Then we move to the new factory and get back to work.
How has the Bay Ridge food scene changed since you opened your brick-and-mortar? What do you hope for it going forward?
This is a neighborhood that is becoming completely dependent on Grub Hub, and I say this as someone who is also dependent on Grub Hub. Also, one of the things that was keeping me from moving is Grand Sichuan House (8701 Fifth Avenue), which is my everything. I will miss that more than anything.
Baltimore, or Charm City, was found to have the second least-attractive people in the country (based on a Travel & Leisure list). How do you and Matt hope to change this?
How the hell does Travel & Leisure even get data for a list like that? Are they standing at the Baltimore airport with survey cards? That is the most random idea for a list ever. “Where the uglies at?!” I can see their evaluators standing at the train station, looking people up and down, taking notes.
What team will you be forced to lie about supporting?
Matt has Mr. Met tattooed on his arm, so I don’t think we can hide that. I’m a Rangers die-hard, and since they don’t have a hockey team, we’re safe. We’ll have to keep our opinions on the Ravens quiet, because that’s a religion down there—for real, on Sunday the streets are deserted, and everyone is watching the game. Houses painted purple and gold. Those people do not fuck around when it comes to football.