Allison and Matt Robicelli of Robicelli’s endured marital strife and seemingly endless financial troubles to build up a busy and successful Brooklyn cupcake business. Today, Robicelli’s has a rotation of 100 unique flavors, ranging from Chicken-and-Waffle to Buffalo Wing, and endorsements from the Today Show to Edible Brooklyn, which calls their cupcakes the best in town. Here are a few highlights from the love story of Robicelli’s, by Nona Brooklyn, just in time for Valentine’s Day:
Matt: We opened the (gourmet foods) store on a Friday in September of 2008, and the stock market collapsed the following Monday. We did pretty well until March of 2009, when the city started cutting back city employees’ overtime.
Allison: People stopped coming in. That’s when we started to make the cupcakes – just to do something different to bring people in. The store was failing, but the cupcakes started to take off. So all of a sudden we were running two businesses – a gourmet shop that was barely surviving, and a cupcake bakery. It was hell. I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to divorce than we were then.
After losing their life’s savings, according to Allison, the couple refocused on cupcakes, and calls started pouring in:
We were getting calls from people saying, “Where can I get your cupcakes in Park Slope? In downtown Brooklyn? Why don’t you open a store in this neighborhood or that neighborhood?” Everyone wanted the cupcakes. So we said, “OK, let’s do this.”
Matt: At the beginning we had orders for maybe seventy five cupcakes a week, so we were pulling in about ninety dollars a week. But it slowly started growing, and kept growing.
Robicelli’s is primarily a wholesale operation, and has a store located in the DeKalb Market at 138 Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Here’s Robicelli’s “cupcake rotation” for Valentine’s Day:
- Creme Brulee – Vanilla cake, vanilla custard buttercream, caramel shards
- Strawberry Champagne – Champagne cake, strawberry champagne buttercream & compote, edible gold dust
- The Ebinger – Chocolate cake, chocolate custard buttercream, chocolate fudge, cake crumbs
- The Eve – Walnut cake, pomegranate cheesecake buttercream, pomegranate glazed walnuts