Quick post today, as we’re celebrating Matt’s parents 40th (wow!) wedding anniversary down at beautiful sunny Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida! There’s going to be lots of pictures, commentary, and recaps once we return, but in the event you want to live vicariously through us, follow us on Twitter where we’re tweeting out pics, restaurant reviews, tips we’re picking up, and random observations like this one:
Sadly, I was unable to snap a photo of said Juggalo, but I’ve got seven more days to track him down like a bleeding antelope.
I’m also posting plenty of photos and talking about food over at Instagram, so if you’re planning a vacation in the coming months and want to know where to eat, it’s worth following us (“Robicellis”, of course). We have completely unrealistic expectations as far as dining out goes, and will be judging everything we eat harshly and completely without mercy. Because truly, that’s the kind of spirit that’s truly what a big family vacation at Disney World is all about. (Tune in Monday night when Matt and I will be spending our anniversary at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant groups Disney outpost!).
Back in Brooklyn, the best staff in the business was baking cupcakes and whoopie pies and etc to usher you off into the weekend as sweetly as they can…..and here they are!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or regularly read this blog, you may have known for a bit that there were some major life decisions going on here in the Robicelli’s household.
Heads up if you couldn’t tell, this is going to be one of my longer posts, and though it’s chock full of news and super-exciting developments, I know some of you just come here for a few laughs and dirty pictures of cupcakes. So for you speed readers, may I present this video of the Sanford & Sons theme song: press play, dance a little in your chair, then just scroll down to the bottom for flavors and get right on along with enjoying your Friday!
For the rest of you who have decided to come along for the ride- back to major life decisions!
As I’ve alluded to in the past and mentioned in countless interviews, we always said that we wouldn’t consider opening a “real store” again until our kids were in school. When we had our old shop in Bay Ridge, we barely saw our kids or each other, our marriage nearly fell apart, and true to the old saying, the store owned us more than we owned it. We were very happy running our wholesale bakery, having our stuff not in one place but in dozens of places, but people continually asked “where’s your store?” as if being a wholesaler wasn’t a legitimate direction for a bakery. We opened DeKalb last year as a sort of experiment- it let us test the waters, see how it felt to have our own retail outpost again while simultaneously running wholesale and catering, doing markets and events, writing a book, and raising two little boys while finding time to also be husband and wife.
In two weeks comes the moment we’ve been talking about in theory for almost three years as if it was some far off date that would never actually happen: our boys are starting school full-time. For years, I fully expected us at this moment to announce that we were opening a traditional brick-and-mortar store, just like every food truck or artisinal jellybean maker is pushing to do.
But here’s what I didn’t take into account in this plan: our kids are AWESOME right now, and they keep getting better. Toby is 4 and Atticus is 5, and they are bright and funny and wonderful, and we have all sorts of amazing adventures together. This summer we’ve searched for chipmunks and poked frogs with sticks, built sandcastles and bonfires, explored museums and zoos - we’re even teaching them to cook (Mommy brag: Atticus butchered his first lobster yesterday! *sniff*).
We also learned that frogs really don’t like being poked with sticks.
Thing is with kids, there’s no way to pause them. There’s no “Stay right here and don’t age at all while Mommy and Daddy build this company- we’ll be right with you once we’re set!”. And if there’s anything we’ve learned since we’ve started this company, it’s that there’s absolutely no measure of success or amount of money that is more important than the family we’ve built together.
We’ve been talking a lot about the future this month, and then once Katie died on Sunday, we sort of cemented our decision.
Robicelli’s at DeKalb Market will close next Friday, August 31st. We will not be doing any long term markets like Madison or Union Square. And we are not going to open a brick-and-mortar location.
Now this is the part where it gets mildly tricky, and I want you all to pay incredibly close attention to the next part, because I’ve been through this with people and the media before and they always get important details messed up. I’m even going to outline this as a Q&A to try to make it as clear as possible:
Q: So if you’re closing your store and not opening a new one, does this mean you’re going out of business?
A: ABSOLUTELY NOT. Not only are we continuing to wholesale to existing retail partners, but we’ve picked up over 6 more in August alone (with more to come), and will be focusing our energies on developing an alternate style of retail presence for us that will benefit our customers and small businesses. We’re also going to be packaging our hot cocoa mix this year (named one of the five best in New York!), and hopefully start shipping that along with brownies come Columbus Day weekend. See? You thought for a minute we were going to run off and go join some sort of nudist colony in Upstate New York where we’d spend our days playing hackysack and wouldn’t be driving ourselves nuts. We’re still going to be ridiculously busy- just in a different direction.
Plus, remember we were being evicted by DeKalb on September 30th anyway so they could build a giant skyscraper on the property. Progress!
Q:But why wholesale? Why not just open a cute little shop somewhere with a retro-40s motif? I mean, we really need more cupcake stores in Manhattan. There’s only, like, two in DivaliStoDi.
A: Because we honestly love being wholesalers. Let me put it like this- say we had a shop in DivaliStoDi (for all of you who aren’t real New Yorkers, that’s the “DVD and Lingerie Store District from 37th to 40th Street btwn 7th & 10th). Now if you’re from South Brooklyn like we are, you need to get on the R and schlep your butt aaaaalllll the way up there to grab them, then schlep them aaaalll the way back. And more importantly (at least to us), we’ll only employ maybe 4-6 people at that store.
However as a wholesaler, we can be almost everywhere- provided that there’s not such ridiculous traffic that our driver can’t get the product there (sorry, Midtown). Currently, we’ve got shops all across Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan, and even out in Patchogue Long Island. Best part? That’s dozens of stores hiring more people. And when people go in specifically to buy our products, they’ll start frequenting those shops for other things as well, and the stores begin to do better across the board, meaning that those small businesses stay in your neighborhood and don’t turn into a Subway. Sort of like how a monkey will bang, like, TONS of female monkeys to increase his chances of having his genes live on.
Should I have brought up promiscuous monkey sex in a post about baked goods? Probably not. But it’s really late and I have a lot more info to cover, and I’m way too tired to delete that and think of another metaphor. Plus I’ve been to the zoo twice this week and I’m having a hard time thinking about anything non-monkey related.
In a nutshell: less stress for us, better for our community, more locations for you to be stuffing your face in. Win-win-win.
Q: But without your shop, I’m not going to be able to get my hands on the whoopie pies or brownies, or the Chicken n’Waffles, or your hot cocoa once it gets cold, or all the other stuff that’s not in the rotation!
A: Many of our locations are starting to pick up the whoopies and brownies as well as the cupcakes, and if your nearest location doesn’t and that makes you sad, just ask them. Our hot cocoa is currently on the menu at Bergdorf Goodman, and we’ll be shipping bags of the mix (and putting it on store shelves) when the temperature finally drops. As for the Chicken n’Waffles and our other off-rotation flavors, they’ll still be available through our new retail model…..
Q: Ok, what the hell this “Alternate Style of Retail Presence” crap you’re talking about? Is this like another flash local artisan market like the Times was warning me about?
A: This is actually the part I’m worried about people not understanding, even though I’m sure you all shop in this way at least once a day.
Ever go to the Cellar at Macy’s and hit the little Godiva chocolate shop, or even the MAC counter? Those little “stores within stores” where brands represent themselves in a much larger retail space, where you can get lots more than just that brand alone can provide you with? Or what about when you go to a deli that sells EXCLUSIVELY Boar’s Head products, so even though Boar’s Head doesn’t own the joint, you still know you’re getting a quality product.
That’s EXACTLY what we’re going to be doing.
We’ve been quietly rolling out our cupcakes at Gourmet Guild in Williamsburg over the past few weeks, and upon the closing of DeKalb, we’ll be moving all our equipment up there and opening “Robicelli’s Williamsburg”! Not only will you be able to get all the stuff you’ve been finding at our DeKalb shop, but you’ll also be able to sit and grab coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company, sit on your laptop or play a board game with your kids, and then on the way out pick up some meat and pantry staples for dinner that night. The owners of this place are fantastic, and we couldn’t be more excited about piloting this program with them. Expect to see Chicken n’Waffles, Bourbon Bacon brownies, and more off-rotation flavors there.
And thanks to a year of prototyping our bakery case model at our 125 square foot space at DeKalb Market, we can now start bringing it elsewhere. Down in Park Slope, we’re taking over the dessert case at Bagel World. We’re popping our heads up in DUMBO for the first time at DUMBO Kitchen. There’s going to be more coming up over the next year. If you’ve got a business and would like to partner with us, check out our wholesale page. And as always, if there’s a place you’d like to see us in your neighborhood, tell them about us! In all the retail shops I’ve worked at, our top corporate buyer was our customers- never be afraid to give any store you shop at your input (politely!), as their goal to provide you with the best possible service.
Q: But I work in Metrotech and this Williamsburg stuff doesn’t help me! What am I supposed to do?
A: There’s no way we’d get you guys hooked and then just up and leave, Metrotech. All our stuff has moved over to Gold Street Eatery at 306 Gold, only three blocks from our current location. It’s actually there right now, so you can start making the transition before we even close. And I heavily suggest you also order the French Dip once you’re there- it’s amazing.
Q: I love seeing you and Matt! I mean, yeah, you guys were almost never at the DeKalb store, but you were there sometimes, and we liked hanging out!
A: We love hanging out with you guys too! But the problem with hanging out is that I don’t actually get any of my real work done, and as I’m currently writing a cookbook that’s due out next year, I really need to sequester myself indoors for a few more months. You’re always welcome to hang out with us virtually over Twitter, and we may be launching a few Google Hangouts over the next couple of months so you can chat with me face to face and watch as my cat eventually takes the whole thing over and plops down for a nap on the keyboard.
A: Not necessarily. It means not right at this very moment. If some big fancy financier came strolling into town and said “Hey Allison & Matt! I’d like to open up a whole chain of Robicelli’s and all you’ll have to do is bake and look pretty!”, then yeah, we’d do it. We just can’t personally handle doing any of that ourselves without contemplating arson several times a day.
In the event that scenario were to ever come true, I would like big fancy financier to be a Texan who only wears white, chews a cigar, screams “YEE-HAW!” every time he gets a good idea, and is constantly accompanied by a pet cougar. It will make meetings all the more bearable.
Q: I still have more questions that you haven’t answered yet!
A: Here they are- AND until we close, we’re doing our 2 for $5 deal every weekday at the DeKalb shop. More exciting news next week! Or pictures of monkeys doin’ it. Depends on how tired I am before I have to write the Tumblr.
Clockwise from front: Chocolate Caramel Pretzel, Bellini, Lime in de Coconut, Tres Leches
On the heels of Monday’s “Let someone know you love them” challenge- I issue another.
I’ve been a bit of a mess for two days since Katie died. Not being able to fall asleep, having nightmares when I do, just going through the motions during the day.
Then I get a phone call yesterday morning from my friend Peter, who’s like the big brother I always wanted but my parents never gave me because I was the firstborn child and we don’t own a time machine. I immediately think something’s wrong because we NEVER call each other- we’re texters. So this is how it goes:
Me: Are you ok?
Peter: Yeah, I’m fine. You’re not going to believe this, but that actress Reese whatsherface just got stabbed in front of my building!
Me: Oh my God- Reese Witherspoon?
Peter: No- WITH A KNIFE!
And then he giggled for about 3 minutes like a six year old girl. Mind you, he’s FORTY.
I hadn’t been pranked called in maybe 15 years - but it made me smile a mile wide, and made yesterday bearable. Why not steal that joke and call someone who needs to smile, or just needs to feel like a kid again?
You could surprise someone with a cupcake, too, because I’ve been told that also makes people feel like a kid again. Unless that person’s childhood was filled with shredded wheat, raisins and cod liver oil. Then you should get that person two cupcakes to make it up to them.
Clockwise from front: Abuelita, Banana Nutella, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel, Bellini
This weekend, Matt and I will be heading up to Chappaqua to watch one of my best friends of over 25 years get married. (and to make the cupcakes for his wedding. You’re friends with us, you get a dessert buffet as a wedding gift. Which, we suspect, is why we’re so goshdarn popular).
More important than the wedding, though, is the fact that for the first time in over five years, Matt and I will have a night in a hotel room all to ourselves. Which means that we are planning only one thing: the best night of sleep ever.
We’re heading down to Sesame Place in about 2 weeks with the kids, one day after doing the cupcakes for THREE weddings in one day, and trust me, you’re going to be hearing a very different sentiment from my blog posts during that vacation. This weekend will be all about sleeping in and enjoying the wonders of complimentary soaps.
Speaking of weddings, we’re now starting to book for the fall, so if you’re getting married and want us to be a part of it, let us know! We do weddings, Sweet 16s, corporate events, birthday parties, office shindigs, and all general hootenanies. Just place your order in advance, because there are days where we’re 100% booked, and the more notice we get, the better odds of us making the magic happen for you.
I talk about baking, it’s “making the magic happen”. I talk about spending a night in a hotel with my husband, its “naps and mini soaps”. There’s something seriously wrong with us.
Clockwise from front: Bellini, Dom DeLuise, Mango Coconut, Banana Cashew
For real, we bought too much food. Way way WAAAAAY too much food. After Thanksgiving last year, Matt and I worked every day til Christmas and were never home. The day the blizzard hit, I went to the fridge to get the kids something to eat, only to find some expired pudding and 4 half full bottles of mustard. I had to walk out in the thick of the blizzard to the Chinese restaurant down the block, who for the record will also remain open through the biblical End of Days. I couldn’t see my more than 5 feet in any direction, and the journey to the corner and back took almost an hour and a half in the freezing cold. That episode is in the “Top Five Scariest Moments of My Entire Life”, just behind the time I accidentally walked in on my grandmother getting out of the shower. *shudder*
When I heard the hurricane was “a-comin”, I wasn’t about to relive my memories of being trapped inside for days eating nothing but eggdrop soup, which makes me think of that stupid list which makes me think of naked grandma- which is NOT something you want to think about when you’re full of eggdrop soup. It was the most miserable of cycles which none of us wanted to repeat. So like most New Yorkers, I went out and bought as much non-perishable food as I could get my hands on.
Of course, the difference between these two situations was that the blizzard deposited over two feet of snow around my house meaning that we couldn’t get out for days. Hurricanes are made of water that drains easily thanks to the fact that we’re NEW YORK FREAKING CITY and we have sewers where I live. We woke up yesterday in a house full of food, looked outside, sky was clear- and we went out to breakfast.
Alas- though we shopped thoroughly for our kitchen at home, we did not for the one we work in. We didn’t have the right inventory to make today’s rotation, so for the first time ever we are repeating a menu twice in a row. Fortunately- last Fridays flavors were crazy delicious, so this isn’t a really too bad of a problem- is it?
And a plus side to being trapped in our apartment all weekend- I got LOTS of work done, including September’s rotation schedule. Summer flavors are beginning to disappear for good as fall moves in, so make sure you grab your favorites before they go away for another year!
Sure we’ll post these again! Why not?!?!
Clockwise from front: Peach Bellini, S’Mores, Root Beer Float, Car Bomb
Ok, so youhave water, batteries, ramen noodles and Spam- but do you have cupcakes?!?!?!
Seriously, though, do you? Because I can guarantee you that at this time on Sunday while you’re all cuddled up in bed watching Netflix, you’re going to think “God, I could really go for a cupcake and a hot cup of coffee. All I have in this damn house is Spam, Baked Beans & Spam, Spam Sausage, Spam Eggs……..I DON’T WANT SPAM!”. And there will be a massive hurricane outside, so you’ll be plum out of luck.
UNLESS you had the foresight to buy several cupcakes today while it was still nice out. Then go home, pop them in an air tight container and stick them right in the freezer. When you start jonesing for a cupcake, BOOM! IN THE FREEZER! Just take it out, leave it on the counter for 10-20 minutes to thaw, and it’ll be the perfect cure for your cabin fever.
AND since we know you’ll probably want more than one, if you go down to our shop at DeKalb Market today and buy two, you’ll get a third one on the house. Because if it is in fact the end of the world, we’d like the last thing you ate to be indulgent and delicious, and not a cold can of Vienna sausages drenched in A1. Let’s keep Hurricane Irene classy.
In other news, there is a 95% chance we will be closing the DeKalb store on Saturday, and a 100% chance that both the kitchen and shop will be closed on Sunday and Monday. Cupcakes are great and all, but not to be risking your life over. Plus, what would happen if we tried to get into the kitchen and a tree branch flew off and impaled me in the forehead? I don’t want to look like some sort of weirdo tree-unicorn! And I probably wouldn’t be able to bake too well anymore either!
However, if you think we’re going to be relaxing you can think again. We’ve got a big project we’ve been working on that might get completed this weekend provided the internet stays on. I’ve got a cookbook proposal to wrap up so that someone will hopefully publish it before cupcakes are “over” (I hear that’s going to happen any day now!). I have a huge basket of mismatched socks that I haven’t touched since 2007, and nows as good a time as any to get on that so I can stop dressing like a hobo. And of course…..WANG CHUNG!
Everybody Wang Chung through the hurricane! And eat cupcakes! Do both at the same time!
Clockwise from front: Peach Bellini, S’Mores, Root Beer Float, Car Bomb
OMG THERE WUZ AN EARTHQUAKE!!!! OMFGZ!!!!! NO ONE IS SAFE!!!!
I honestly thought it was the subway passing under me. Am I so much of a New Yorker that even an earthquake doesn’t phase me? I grew up here, and I am beginning that even though I think I’m tolerant of everything and not the least bit geocentric, there is SO MUCH I am learning about the world that is foreign. Namely- earthquakes. And this week I also learned that there are people in America who go to Applebee’s for fun- like, get dressed up on a Saturday night to go hang out at Applebee’s and get loaded on Mucho Margaritas. Suddenly, I feel so sheltered and out of touch with America.
Back to Earthquakeapocolypsearamalamadingdong. Fortunately, there was no serious damage, except for one major thing: the VCR for our Circus of the Stars screening. At least, I’d like to blame the earthquake. Maybe it just died because it wanted to make me look stupid in front of everyone who showed up. Long story short- no one could make it work, and it took two people to dismantle the entire thing in order for us to get the tape out. Everyone who came out just to be disappointed got free cupcakes, to thank them for being a friend (just like you would have wanted, Bea).
Fortunately the videotape survived, so we’ll be able to screen it for real next week with a VCR who ISN’T a gigantic stupid jerk! Click HERE for the Facebook invite for the rescheduling.
Once the earthquake was over, and we were sure everyone was safe, there were important questions to ask- namely DID MY SEGMENT GET BUMPED FROM THE EYEWITNESS NEWS AT FIVE?!?!?! According to Twitter and Facebook, the promos for it have been playing non-stop on Channel 7 for two days, and since I got rid of network and cable television I haven’t been able to see it. I think it’s pretty obvious that this earthquake was really nothing more than a conspiracy against me.
But now for some ACTUAL news- I’m writing the schedule for September, meaning that it’s only a few short weeks until fall flavors return! CLICK HERE to send me your requests- I’ll do my best to get the all in stores this month!
And now for the cupcakes that are in stores RIGHT NOW! GO GET ‘EM!
I fall behind on website maintenance a lot because I consistently overschedule myself, and when I do have the time to do it I end up spending hours playing Oregon Trail on my Blackberry (still the greatest game ever). THIS week, however, I finally managed to make it all the way to Oregon with only two of my children dead from random bear attacks, so I quit while I was ahead and got some actual work done!
First I added a few things to our press section. Even though I signed up for Google Alerts, I completely suck at keeping on top of this, so if you’re a blogger who happens to write about us and would like some linkage, feel free to let us know. We’d love to link to you as well, thus completing the circle of life and appeasing the Interwebs. Sorry it sort of looks messy- the window to edit Tumblr pages is really really small, and very hard to work with. I’m doing the best I can, Goddamnit!!!!! Stop judging me!!!!
Also, I finally added an About Us tab, since lots of people have been hounding us for bios. This is a project I’ve put off for ages since it feels so wrong to talk about all your accomplishments, like you’re some big fancy pants show off that’s better than everyone. I may be many things, but I am NOT a namby pamby fancy pants show off boogerhead. (maybe that should be my bio)
Then it occurred to me……since YOU are the ones who would be looking at it, what do you guys want to know? Seriously, ask us anything and we’ll do our best to put your question up there with a semi-serious answer. We care and your input matters- this is TOTALLY NOT because we’re wussing out and trying to get you to get to do some of our work for us. So ask away and enjoy the silliness now, before we inevitably sell out and have a PR consultant tell us how we’ve been doing everything all wrong, and have all of our social media taken over by a 23 year old named Kaylie (with a heart over the “I”).
And on a closing note- Happy 4th of July! We hope you all have a great long weekend- we’re closing ourselves for the holiday, so we’ll see you again next Wednesday. Now, in honor of our country’s birth- our NSFW National Anthem!
Clockwise from front: Abuelita, Coconut Mango, Horchata, Bellini
Last week I was introducing my children to the infinite brilliance of The Cosby Show on Netflix, when the most horrible thing occurred to me.
One day, Bill Cosby is going to die. Cliff Huxtable, the dad we all wanted when we were kids, will die. And Bill Cosby is OLD. Not Dick Van Dyke old (who I really don’t want to die), but old.
A few days later, Peter Falk died, and hearing about it ruined my entire freaking day. It’s silly that we can get so sad over the passing of someone whom we never met, and honestly really know nothing about. For all I know, Peter Falk could have been an psychotic abusive alcoholic just like Bing Crosby was, and still I would have been completely bummed. God, every time a Golden Girl dies, I’m in bed crying for a week.
Now I want you guys to brace yourselves for an idea so brilliant, it most certainly will rock you to your core. And journalists or other media folks who are reading this- please take special note. You may want to read this part twice and EXTRA hard, just so it sinks in.
When a beloved celebrity dies: just don’t tell us. Seriously, how the hell were any of us supposed to know Bea Arthur was dead? Did knowing make my life better in any way? NO! IT MADE IT SO MUCH WORSE!!!! For all I know, Bea Arthur could be living in a retirement community in Boca, and I would have no need for any proof of that fact. This could be a typical converstion:
ME: You know who was great? Bea Arthur! I wonder how she’s doing?
MATT: According to Wikipedia, she’s living out of the spotlight in a luxury private community for seniors. No wonder- she’s 146!
ME: 146! Wow- that’s great! Good for her! I bet she drank a lot of juice!
See how that went? No need for either of us to actually confirm any of this as true- just accepting it and moving on. This can work, America.
Unfortunately, the stupid American media has informed us that most of the Golden Girls are dead, and you know our whole thing about making them a tribute flavor once they die (which is why there is no Betty While- and hopefully never will be). Since Estelle Getty died before we began making cupcakes, we said we’d hold on to her flavor until we could release it one her birthday. And this year, not only are we delivering cupcakes on her birthday, BUT it’s also the first day gays can marry in NY! And you know what Sophia says about that……
In only a few weeks, we’ll be having our first ever “Golden Girls Day”, with the Estelle, Bea and Rue all happening the same day! And I’m hoping that Betty White doesn’t die that week, because I’ll feel totally responsible.
If you’re wondering what other cupcakes are coming up this month, just click on July’s Cupcake Schedule that we just posted: we’ve got lots of great summer flavors, and a few new ones as well.
Speaking of new ones: TWO today! Go eat!
Clockwise from front: The Bluth, Bellini, S’Mores, Horchata
NEW! HORCHATA: Horchata cake, buttercream and pudding, brown butter and cinnamon rice crispies
NEW! BELLINI: Peach champagne cake & buttercream, champagne simmered New Jersey peaches
THE BLUTH: Chocolate banana cake, chocolate buttercream, roasted walnuts, ganache