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Old 10-24-2013, 05:29 AM
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Laura Laura is offline
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Default Is Butter Lane Circling The Drain?

In spite of the loss of the East Village Butter Lane's annex/classroom space having been public knowledge over the summer, nothing prepared me for what I encountered when I walked into Butter Lane last night for the first time in months.
The former classroom space was now occupied by an overpriced taco restaurant. Within the Butter Lane shop itself, the counter was right next to the door, and the classroom area was where the "back of the shop" (food prep area) used to be, separated from the public by a plexiglas barrier. I was told when I asked about it that they wanted to emphasize the cupcake classes (which are thriving, if the accounts on the web are to be believed). However, in spite of what had to be a conspicuous attempt to keep the space uncluttered, and the fact that I have to give them props for creative re-jiggering, there is no substitute for the "elbow room" that had been afforded by that second space.
Though I've tried one of their nutella-filled tarts and found them good, the obvious question would be whether they are "losing their focus" by diversifying their products, making and selling tarts, donuts, gelato, etc. Though it may seem good and "consumer friendly" for them to position Butter Lane as your morning coffee-and-sweet breakfast place through social media, (I get their facebook feed); alas, this is only really feasible if you live in proximity to the East Village, which I do not.
Though I took one of their initial cupcake classes and found it good, alas, it seems that in the present day, peoples' mileage may vary, as scheduling problems, unnecessarily strict policies, and other drawbacks have been reported by recent online reviewers.
When I went to place my cupcake order, I discovered by happenstance that they no longer frosted cupcakes to order, (previously, one of the stand-out benefits of choosing Butter Lane above others) but filled orders by using the cupcakes that happened to be available in the case at the time. Though selection has always been somewhat limited, when I happened to be there last night, it was even more limited than I had encountered before. Butter Lane's strong point had previously been simple flavors done well, with natural ingredients and not-too-much sugar. Arguably, the Peek Freans of cupcakes. Alas, perhaps they are hurried in production these days. The raspberry-frosted cupcakes available no longer bore a diminutive, perfect raspberry in the middle of the frosting, though their caramel-frosted ones were still distinguished by popped kernels of popcorn, and their espresso-frosted ones were still adorned with coffee beans. The seasonal frosting flavor available, apple cinnamon, had a small apple chip (perhaps mass-produced?) on top of it.
I get it. Things run out. Economic climates and consumer trends change, and retailers must adjust. Every business has growing pains. Butter Lane's are just conspicuous where it hurts: the tastebuds. But Butter Lane (the East Village one) was a small shop to begin with; they are clearly worse off for having lost what must have been at least half their space. However, they are hardly unique in struggling to hang on to a brick-and-mortar presence in the East Village. The surrounding situation in the neighborhood isn't promising; rising rents have priced out other makers of high-quality goods one couldn't get elsewhere. (Though how much the landlords can hope to get and from whom is an open question, when many of these storefronts have been spending extended amounts of time seemingly conspicuously vacant.) Others, perhaps, couldn't sustain sales. If things continue as they have been, soon the day will come when you can't get amusement and ideas by walking down the street looking at the unique items made by the up-and-coming designers who could afford to maintain a small storefront in the East Village, because there will be none left. Ditto for the perfect cupcake to snack on during the walk.

Last edited by Laura; 10-24-2013 at 06:04 AM.
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