Some sad news from Extra Place, the little stump of a street buried behind the Bowery: Bespoke Chocolates, the chocolate shop opened by Rachel Zoe Insler two and a half years ago, will close this Thursday.
Last Friday, Insler broke the news over Bespoke’s Facebook page with a message reading in part:
“It is with much sadness that we share with you the news that after almost two and a half years on Extra Place, our Bespoke Chocolates retail shop will be closing its doors permanently at 7pm next Thursday, May 12th. Running a small business in New York City is very challenging, and we are so incredibly grateful for all of your support over the past few years.
“We hope eventually to be able to come up with another way to share our chocolates with the public. … Our plans for the very immediate future, however, involve reflection, a glass of wine, and a lot of eye-drying.”
Shortly after it opened, Bespoke received a flurry of media attention for its distinctive truffles and chocolates, which included its very popular pretzel-covered sea-salted caramels. But the shop’s opening on Extra Place, an alley that prior to being co-opted by Avalon Bowery Place was known more as an alfresco toilet for CBGB patrons, was seen by some East Villagers as a symbol of the neighborhood’s gentrification. And certainly, Extra Place has continued to inspire both developers intent on turning it into a “slice of the Left Bank” (huh?) and restaurateurs like Daniel Boulud, who is building a commissary there.
A commissary may be the kind of food-related business best-suited to the street, which, despite its proximity to the Bowery, tends to be hidden in plain sight from most passersby. Which is a good thing if you’re hoping to avoid tourists, but not so good if you’re trying to run a business. Bespoke’s fate indicates that perhaps the Avalon developers were a wee bit myopic about their ability to turn Extra Place into a retail mecca — and as sad as we are for Insler, we can’t help but hope that the only vaguely Parisian thing about the alley will be the presence of a French restaurateur’s sausage plant.