In a year when excellent bakeries are opening across New York, it might seem silly to mourn the upcoming loss of Arcade Bakery. Yet, losing the tiny, tucked-away Tribeca spot feels outsized.
Founder Roger Gural says his rheumatoid arthritis has simply made it too difficult to do the work required to keep Arcade Bakery running, and after Friday, it will close.
The looming closure has brought out the fans, including me. I stopped in just after 12 p.m. the day after the news broke earlier in July, and the lunch line was backed up almost to the revolving door entry. I watched pizzas come out of the kitchen in twos and threes, thrust into the hands of hungry devotees. By the time I made it to the counter to order, the loaves had mostly disappeared and the quoted pizza wait time was close to 30 mins, longer than I had. I ordered a ham and cheese baguette slicked with butter. It was perfect. Devotees are still lining up this week, too.
But I get it. Pound for pound, dollars to gastronomic pleasure, Arcade Bakery’s baguette brings some of the most joy I’ve had in the city for only a couple of bucks. It’s the type of local bread institution I dream of living near, the kind I wish every neighborhood had access to. It is Tribeca to me — it’s the place I’ll always seek out if I’m even slightly in the neighborhood, sometimes visiting the Tribeca location of my gym just for a chance to visit for breakfast. Some people surprise their office with doughnuts in the morning; I bring baguettes and sourdough.
It’s a cliche to say that Arcade Bakery feels like a secret, but it does, and that’s part of why it felt so special. The little is counter tucked inside a big arcade in Tribeca, with minimal signage, and it’s a fair distance between the entrance and the bakery counter. The smell of warm bread gradually intensifies as you step down the sloped hall.
Like the best bakeries, it’s at peak form early in the morning, with plentiful rows of bread and a bountiful pastry case. The sandwiches are relatively simple to let the incredible quality of the bread do most of the talking. The pastries are gloriously buttery.
Arcade’s signature item is a best-of-both-worlds treat: a baguette wrapped in croissant dough that only lands on the counter around 1 p.m. and sells out fast. By the misfortune of either arriving too early or too late, it’s a pleasure I’ve only managed to have a few times. Salty and flaky, it’s the kind of baguette you end up decimating, stealing piece by piece — often before you’ve even left the bakery lobby
Gural says that Arcade could reopen if another owner wants to take it over. But for now, the next two days — 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — will be the last time the little Tribeca oasis will be in business. There’ll still be a handful of other bakeries in the city baking at arguably comparable levels, but there’s only one Arcade Bakery.
Adam Moussa is a senior social media manager at Eater.