08 August 2013

D'Auito's Bakery to Close Sunday After Nearly 80 Years


A reader informed me that D'Aiuto's, the bakery on Eighth Avenue and 30th Street that has been open since 1924, and is know for its cheesecake, will close its doors for good on Sunday, Aug. 11. This, directly from members of the staff. 

This demise doesn't come completely as a surprise. A couple years ago, signs advertised the D'Aiuto building as being for sale "by owner."

D'Aiuto's was one of those New York institutions that soldiered on year after years without garnering too much attention. It's claim as having "The Best Cheesecake on Earth" probably inspired more head-scratching than nods of agreement.

The store was founded by Luca and Anna D'Aiuto, Italian immigrants. Their original bakery was on 25th Street. Their son Mario took over in the 1970s. He's the guy who started promoting the "Baby Watson" cheesecake. The name was based on a picture of himself as baby. (Watson was easier for customers to understand than Mario, apparently.)

In the 1970s, Aiuto's had five storefronts (the flagship was at 8th Avenue and 52nd Street) and a franchise in Boston. By the end of the century, the company's long, slow demise began. According to Capital New York, "Under Mario's stewardship, the business hit $20 million a year, but in 1998, D’Aiuto sold the name 'Baby Watson' to New Jersey-based Mother’s Kitchen, one of the largest cheesecake manufacturers in the industry. Then, around 2006, Mario’s health began a slow decline. The bakery warehouse and most of the storefronts had closed, leaving only the 8th Avenue and 30th Street location. Mario’s wife, whose career at one point was managing nightclubs in Manhattan, took over the business for a few years, but struggled to take care of both Mario and the store."

Eventually, with declining fortunes, the building was put up for sale. The business and building was apparently bought by one Ajay Patel in 2012, who was born in Nairobi and grew up in India and England. He took over D’Aiuto’s, promising to keep the business as is. 

18 comments:

Ivan said...

D'Auito's cheesecake easily beats out Junior's by a mile. Sad to see it go, but I am not surprised. Enjoy your froyo!

julia said...

These notices break my heart AND make me nutZ! Please, please everyone who owns a great small business, makes a great product or is integral to your neighborhood; make a plan for your business' future, hire someone who is excited, teach them to love it and then teach them to run it - step back and let things go on and on.

kim said...

I went there for one last coconut macaroon, which is a sleeper. Not too sweet and not stale. Surprised there's no 'last day in business' sign at the storefront.

Anonymous said...

That's so sad. For years my friend's family always got their cakes from D'Aiuto's. Our family always got from DiRobertis and it was a friendly fight every year who had the better cake.

terithecook said...

That's just sad. My friend's family always got their cakes from D'Aiuto and we always got ours from DiRobertis. Their cakes were always good (even though my heart belongs to DiRobertis.) I wish I had seen this I would have made the last trip there.

Shia said...

They actually did not close.
I called this morning and it was closed for a few days due to renovations. They are open and in business.

Plunge said...

No, the phone number may work, but the store is still definitely closed, with brown paper in the window, and no evidence it will ever open again. Although a sign claims it is renovating, you can still see boxes of tea piled on a shelf inside. A very few of its pastries on on sale in Jessie's Deli a few doors north, but even they don't know if or when it will open again. So it IS closed, even if you can order a cheesecake by the phone.

Plunge said...

It is absolutely still closed. Brown paper in the windows. You might be able to phone its bakery, but the store is closed with no sign of ever reopening.

Anonymous said...

Just walked by there for a canolli, saw the sign, went to Jesse's deli..Absolutely not same as the bakery had, was one the best, now they were just terrible

Anonymous said...

This is so sad! My family's been getting our cheesecakes, pumpkin and apple pies for Thanksgiving every year for over 20 years. What are we going to do now...

davidd62 said...

I've been going there for over 40 years. We got all our kids b'day cake there. Before work I'd get a raisin tea buscuit with butter and jelly. Their strawberry and lemon Italian ice, almond horns, biscotti (sold elsewhere for twice the price.) most of their stuff was wonderful. Sad they closed, they'll be missed.

alan ruta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ghizlane Maachi said...

D'Auito Bakery was the most wonderful moment of my life I worked there for 16years Mario was the best boss you can ever work for I love him so much I left just I couldn't see Mario health deteriorating it's was very painful for me, we were making only the best product for New Yorkers and visitors . I miss it so much always be in my heart Mario D'Auito

Peter D'Aiuto said...

Alan Ruta’s post above is completely incorrect. I’m not sure why someone would post hurtful lies. Mario’s wife is a wonderful, kindhearted woman. The D’Aiuto family is blessed to have her.

Douglas Arndt said...

Mario D'Aiuto is a real life "George Bailey" and he really did live a "wonderful life". I know Mario and his beautiful wonderful wife and I'm proud to say that they are the salt of the earth and they should be proud of how many lives they have changed for the better.

Mike Burns said...

worked at D'aiuto's for years from 1976-1984. Couldn't find a couple with bigger hearts then Mario and his wife. The standard of a small business is how they treat their employees. There employees were treated like family by Mario and especially his wife.

Jasmin said...

2125647137 is still their number. They have moved to Bayridge Brooklyn. Take the D train to 18th Ave.

Rachel Federman said...

Still miss this place.