At 3 p.m. today, DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe closed its doors for the final time. The East Village institution opened 110 years ago, and has been run by generations of the DeRobertis family ever since. “A long time, a lot of sugar,” laughed John DeRobertis.
The 35-year-old has been spending time in the cafe since the elder John, his father, brought him along 30 years ago. We headed over to 176 First Ave today to chat to the family, as well as the lunch crowd lamenting the loss of their neighborhood favorite.
DeRobertis said the closure hasn’t hit him yet. “There’s a lot going on, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Enjoying myself,” he said. A number of factors contributed to the baker's closure. "Twenty or thirty different reasons," DeRobertis said. "Neighborhood change, people are on diets, everyone wants gluten free… the city’s changed.”
But locals were eager to stop by the institution in its final hours, lining up for sweet treats and coffee, and filling up the tables next to the tiled mosaic walls. One cake fridge displayed some of the last bits and pieces for sale—it held spoons, coffee cups, an embroidered apron.
Customer Suzanne Mattiello-De Groot has lived in the area in the 90s, and while now living over in Brooklyn, came over to see the shop one last time. “It’s sad. I’m glad I could get here today. I bought a couple little things to remember,” she said, motioning towards the spoons in the cake fridge. “It’s an old-school place.”
“I’d grab a pastry, come and grab a cannoli or something. It’s really sad. But I understand, you can’t work forever, you have to retire. I’m just worried what’s coming here after this," she told us.
This sentiment was echoed by Kim Lanza, a cousin of the DeRobertis family. “It’s one of the last old-fashioned New York-style places that makes the neighborhood what it is,” she said. “Hopefully the new owner will be sentimental and sensitive to the place.”
As for what’s next for the DeRobertis family? “We have some ideas that we’re going through. But once everything settles we’ll sit down and assess the next phase,” said John.