The last remaining Birdbath Green Bakery, the environmentally-conscious offshoot of the famed City Bakery, has closed for good, leaving several employees without a job and several weeks of owed wages, according to a source.
The shop at Grand Central, which opened in 2014 as the largest Birdbath, had hung on despite the closure of City Bakery last month. An employee, who asked not to be named, told Gothamist that the store closed on Friday, November 8th, after the kitchen staff quit.
She said she had not been paid for nine weeks of work.
"I’m really upset," she said. "He owes me over $2,000."
She called Maury Rubin, the owner and CEO of City Bakery, "dishonest," saying he had repeatedly told employees that he would pay them. She said Rubin communicated to staff by posting messages on a human resource system called Humanity. In one of the messages, she said, he told employees of a plan to start a string of hot-chocolate pop-ups and that he was hoping the enterprise could generate enough revenue to pay them.
Efforts to reach other employees were unsuccessful. Rubin did not respond to a request for comment.
The crash of City Bakery, known for their pretzel croissants, hot chocolate and mac 'n' cheese, stunned and saddened New York food connoisseurs.
In an Instagram post, Rubin attributed the problem to "too much debt, debt which is like quicksand" and the lack of affordable financing.
Referring to Birdbath, he said: "Years ago we began a second bakery concept, Birdbath Green Bakery. A little sister to City Bakery. Birdbath was embraced and grew from Tribeca to Soho to the UWS, but then we had some misses, and the cost was high. We unwound Birdbath to focus on City Bakery. We've sought new partners and financial support that hasn’t been found. We've believed our profitable track record, range of new opportunities and value in the community would be part of a solution. Not so ..."
The first Birdbath, which served coffee as well as baked goods and prepared foods supplied by City Bakery, quietly opened in the East Village in 2005. Over the years, Rubin undertook a rapid expansion that included hiccups along the way. The Tribeca shop closed in 2017. The following year, two Birdbaths on the Upper West Side shuttered. The Soho branch, which was housed in a historic storefront, suddenly shut down this summer.
According to the source, business at the Grand Central outpost had been abysmal due to lack of support from management.
"He’s been cutting the menu," she said. "The quality went down. People were unhappy and we lost customers."
In Instagram post on October 20th, Rubin vowed to return, albeit under a different name.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story misstated the very first Birdbath. The first shop opened in the East Village in 2005.