[EVG file photo]
Last week, we noted that 174-176 First Ave., home the past 110 years to DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe, was in contract.
The building arrived on the market in June 2013 with an asking price of $12 million. The DeRobertis family owns the building, so it seemed likely that the bakery would remain despite the sale... until a real-estate listing circulated in May showing that the retail spaces in the basement and first floor of No. 176 would be delivered vacant once the buildings sell. (However, workers there denied they were closing.)
Since last week's post, readers heard several different closing dates for the bakery — Nov. 25 and Dec. 6 among them. The family has now officially said they will close for good after Dec. 5.
The economy, age and health reportedly compelled the four De Robertis siblings to sell the building.
John De Robertis, one of the grandchildren, discusses the bakery's rich history in a post at Bedford + Bowery, who first noted the Dec. 5 close date.
Meanwhile, depression has set in...
Previously on EV Grieve:
174-176 First Ave. is in contract
[Updated] 110-year-old DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe looks to be closing once the building is sold
174-176 First Ave., home of DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe, is for sale
Let's take a look at the DeRobertis in-house bakery
This is heartbreaking. I am happy for the family that they will make a massive amount of money on the deal, but I am going to miss this place.
Wow. For once I have no words.
I went in there yesterday afternoon to buy some cookies to send to my mom for Thanksgiving, and after I got home I just cried and cried. I felt like someone in my family died, like that everything I hold from childhood memories was officially gone.
Not good news. First Sapporo East, now this. I always said it's all over EV without these two institutions. I have my fingers crossed that EV Meats sticks around -- if that ever goes we really will have become an urban suburb.
My family owned a bakery for several generations. When my father passed 10 years ago it took all of a year for my brothers to sell it. The sale of deRobertis may not be due to gentrification. The family may have just wanted out, like my brothers did. Having said that I will miss them. We always got our celebration cake from them. Veniero's will be even busier now.
I'm usually unsentimental about businesses coming and going but this one is truly a loss. Not that it's offerings were all that special (although the quad iced espresso might have been among the EV's most powerful easily available and legal drug experiences) but this was a rare living manifestation of another era in NYC. That the cafe endured for 110 years is remarkable. Can't blame the family for cashing in but as opposed to businesses that are 10 or 20 or even 50 years old these century long endeavors you can count on one hand. Sad.
ditto what Giovanni didn't say.
I only went there once. I didn't like it.
Veniero's finally beat them!
Oh god, no. Why, why, why?
Thank you for 110 years. I wish the family all the best.
Still, I feel a little irked that John told me to my face in recent months multiple times that the building was NOT for sale and they were not going anywhere.
Before I looked at this tread just now, I went there today (late morning) to sit down and have some cappuccino, a cannoli and some cheesecake. I wanted to make sure I did this “just in case”. Now we know it’s official. Dana was there. She is always very nice. While I was there, some regulars came in. I don’t they’ll be hanging at Starbucks. My mother, who was Sicilian, always went there. She said Veniero's was for tourists, DeRobertis was for the locals. This truly sucks. Wonder, can I get a mass card from Immaculate Conception for them?
And the post underneath probably is a harbinger of what's to replace it.
How about more dumplings?
oh so sad to lose this neighborhood mainstay and institution... :-((((((((((((((((
I've had a lot of different feelings about this. I loved this place, did research, talked to the family several times. Now I just feel angry that they simply decided to close up shop and sell the whole kit and caboodle. (And lied to all of us who asked what was up.) If they wanted to, they could have found right-minded people to continue with the bakery. But they didn't. They wanted to close. So I have no more sympathy or sadness.
At this point I feel worse for the music shop and music school upstairs that are getting booted. F*** the DeRobertis nostalgia -- they want to hang it up.
Isn't anyone shedding tears for the other fine businesses that are affected?
Funny story that they didn't tell you in the interview at Bowery and Bedford: that DeRobertis was bugged by the FBI for years because it was purported to be a mafia hang out, too.
Or as a friend of mine said, "My marriage ended at DeRobertis and the FBI heard the whole argument!"
It's their business. It's their decision to close. Finding "right-minded people" to take over the bakery does not grant the family with a cash windfall, and maybe they need the money. Or maybe they don't and they just want it! It's not the concern of anyone outside this family.
I really don't get the people who are like "Why did they lie to us!" and "Why are they leaving!" like you have an entitlement to know the private decisions of the DiRobertises. Maybe they "lied" to you because they wanted to ward off that kind of hysterical response for as long as possible. Jesus, it's like you've never met a discreet and tight-knit family before.
Follow-up to my previous post. Went back and talked to Dana. Dana, a generation Y woman, told me they could not compete with today's crowd who no longer converse that just stare at their smart phones, texting to each other at the same table. BTW, I think everyone here also feels grief for the upstairs businesses that are going down with it, we were all in state of reality hits shock, thanks for bringing up that tragedy as well. Could the bakery (Italian) have continued? Not really qualified to answer that question but I seriously doubt it.
For you newbies, from my friend’s (retired law enforcement) "The EV Mafia" essay:
"One of the lucrative rackets that Lucky Luciano "inherited" from Masseria was the Italian lottery, or the numbers game. On March 30, 1935, detectives raided DeRobertis Pasticceria and arrested Mike Sabatelli, described by the New York Times as a leading banker of the Italian lottery. The Mafia's annual "take" from the "policy" racket was estimated between $2 million and $10 million. During a simultaneous raid at the Eagle Printing Company, 202 East 12th Street (Second and Third Avenues), police found 5 million slips printed for the Italian numbers game. Each slip cost a nickel and the average play was reported to be a quarter, with bets reaching as high as $5."
"On May 18, 1965, while the French Connection federal trial was underway, Joe Piney Armone's friend, 26-year-old former Playboy bunny and Copacabana dancer Patricia DeAlesandro, made several purchases at a shoe store managed by one of the jurors--and then she asked him out on a date. DeAlesandro offered the juror $5,000, his own shoe store and a trip to Europe "if he remembered who his friends were at the right time," U.S. Attorney Robert Morgenthau later announced. Obviously, the juror reported the incident to law enforcement; DeAlesandro was convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison. On June 22, 1965, Joseph Armone was convicted of the French Connection charges and served ten years in prison. When Paul Castellano became Gambino family boss, he promoted Joe Piney Armone to capo, and Armone reportedly ran his rackets from the back room at DeRobertis. In 1985, Joe Piney Armone (who missed out on the Albert Anastasia hit) conspired with Gambino capo John Gotti to murder Paul Castellano and take control of the Gambino crime family. In 1986, after Castellano's murder outside of Sparks Steak House, Gotti promoted Armone to underboss and dispatched him to manage Gambino family interests in Florida."
Anonymous at 3:49 is absolutely correct. My inside source had actually heard the tapes. I took this person for a coffee, and they said it was odd to see the place that they had only known in an audio context. For the record, this person indicated that DeRoberti's owners were not criminals.
Slightly off topic (but also in response to Anonymous at 3:49), my marriage basically BEGAN at DeRobertis. My future wife and I were regulars when the old man (RIP) put me on the spot for not having made the move to tie the knot. It was definitely a factor in my decision to make it legal.
My first love lived in a building on 11th street. A window in the loft faced the back of DeRobertis. When we were in bed the intoxicating smell of baking pastries would come in trough the window. Ever since then that smell has always been associated with love, happiness, and great sex. Wonderful memories!
I think part of the problem is that they never had a lot of new customers going there when old customers died or moved away (like yourselves), especially tourists, e.g. Veniero's. First Ave Pierogi & Deli closed in much the same way. Be it not enough advertising, getting in guide books, or written up in reviews, all businesses face obsolescence if they don't innovate.
These old (104) businesses closing are like a death in the family in this case a death in the neighborhood's characater. No family business can go on forever so enjoy this place as much as you can in the next couple of weeks and enjoy the memories after that.
Mafia influence is another aspect of small business, willing or unwilling.
Man, my Great Great Uncle Mario is flippin' in his grave over this stinkin' development....
but he didn't see nuttin', I tell 'ya.....NUTTIN!
And Anon @5:04pm....Bakin' bread has always been the aroma of love.
Maybe I am a mercenary and selfish sort, but I can't blame anyone for trading a huge stack of cash for the hassle of running a business. I would do it in a second.
As more and more of the cheap restaurants have disappeared, I find myself increasingly dependent on the KeyFood on A to eat eat eat. I wonder if anyone knows, are those individually owned or some corporate entity? Because if someone is actually back there keeping that place going, surely they will be someday soon be taking the 30 million dollars or whatever that big plot will appraise at. Rather than hassle sending back the bad cabbage and fighting with the union all day.
And then I will be hungry.
A huge stack of cash? 12 million dollars split between how many people? I don't call that a huge stack of cash. Not for that double building with stores. In the East Village? Not in this day and age.
Meanwhile Veniero's down the street, prospers. But unlike that industrial pasticceria plant, Derobertis kept their presentation and atmosphere, OLD SCHOOL. But in the end, THAT is exactly the problem.
We here may appreciate places like DeRobertis on various levels of nostalgia or quaintness or coolness, but truth is, there is no true appreciation for these kinds of places among the masses because aesthetically and contextually we live in a time where banal and cheap is the preference. If Derobertis was doing better business ( half the time they were empty) the family would most likely not have had to nor felt compelled to sell.
Truth is, business was BAD.
As a result of it's old school craftsmanship, look and principle, DeRobertis actually repeled more people than it attracted.
The majority of people today have no taste in how they dress, the music they listen to or how they live.
Places like these, in actuality, were built as a reflection of the active character and attentiveness of the types of people to whom it catered.
A more mature and formal and stylish kind of people.
When you didnt have to be rich or smug to have CLASS.
Sneakers and blue jean wearing, rock/dance music listening, ikea and Kmart shopping everyday modern citizens have no connection to places like these. They can only seem them as objective relics, unable to actually relate to them as reflections of themselves.
Think about that.
Buona sera DeRobertis. You belong to another time and another kind of people.
DeRobertis was a museum of pastry, a place to buy the same pastries that the guys who built the IRT ate.
So, so sad. This closing hurts more than most.
If the Tenement Museum had the money, buying would have been a bargain . . .
For the people who are angry about being lied to—"We don't know," 'No, the building's not for sale," "We're not going anywhere,"—they always lie. They have to; what would you do?
This saddens me greatly. I'm upset I can't go in for one last cannoli.
After December 5th, I highly recommend: www.fortunatobrothers.com
The commenter at 9:50 gave me a chuckle. Are we now lamenting "sneakers and blue jean wearing, rock/dance music listening, ikea and Kmart shopping everyday modern citizens?" So, is the problem with the "new" EV:
1) "Frat" bros and their "sorostitutes" (would love to understand this definition better sometime);
2) Tech nerds from MIT and CalTech who work at Google and Facebook;
3) NYU students (a quite diverse bunch, from my experience), or
4) Jerry Seinfeld?
We have lived on Avenue A/11th St.
since 1977. Our kids Ella and Miles
were born here. We have always been
big fans and supporters of DeRobertis.
This loss is a loss for mouse noses
everywhere! Where do I take my
granddaughter for her first cannoli?
Damn you, passage of time.
I am just heartsick.
This place was really awful. The pastries were like 110 years old. You can't really say the store front was anything special. The cakes in the window needed dusting. I hate the corporate gentrification of the neighborhood as much as anyone, but this place was gross.
Re Anon 9:50 pm -- I agree with a lot of what you're saying. DeR was old school, in a way that a lot of kids today seem not to understand. But 9:03 am, above, is right too -- the windows were dusty, etc.
I'm disappointed that DeR didn't get with the times just the tiniest bit, widen their offerings, etc. The shop could have stayed alive that way.
@November 24, 2014 at 9:50 PM
Who are you ? Paulie Walnuts ?
To the DeRobertis Family;
Thanks for the years and years of wonderful treats and fond memories. You'll always be remembered as a cornerstone of the LES, and I will miss your espresso ices terribly.
FigKitty - All of the above and more.
Nearly all of today's citizenry, can fit under that description. It is the sensibility and taste of the era in which we now live.
Anon @ 12:30 - True. But as the sign in front of Eisenberg's on 5th ave says,"Either you get it, or you dont".
As depressin' as Derobertis closing is, once we lost Gino's on 60th or Manganaro's on 37th, it almost seems like everything else dont even matter.
the Real new york is dying. soon it will be one big mini mall of big box stores and people running past each other with their smart phones. what happened to cutting edge fashion, creative people and good food.
It wasn't the pastry shop, it was the parking meters that were bugged by the feds. The fellas would hang out outside resting their hands on the meters standing there talking about the day's actions/activities. Nowadays the feds are much smarter they put their mikes and cameras in all of our home appliances checking up on all of us. Oh, how times have changed!!
DeRoberti closing is a mirror of American society, and its under appreciation of culture or history. Even more, it reveals the utter lack of imagination this wonderful little period piece of a café inspires. Quaintly shabby, it is 100% genuine and so out of place in a chrome, plastic GMO world. It's time matches its beautiful sister church that was just torn down on 12th St. Its not just the end of another last century- but the last millennia too. Sad.
All I know is their Pastries Blew. Who cares that they're going.
Could have kept the business going longer if they hired a cleaner, and hired a consulting pastry chef to revamp the offerings to use modern techniques like butter, sugar, real fruit.
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