By: Daniela Franco
Maury Rubin, owner of City Bakery, did not have a traditional introduction into the bakery business. For years, he wasn’t even anywhere close to thinking about baking.
Rubin, 54, grew up watching and loving sports. He knew he wanted to be involved in the radio and TV media. Rubin says, “When I was in college, I was the play-by-play announcer for […] the radio station, basketball, football, lacrosse”. Rubin later on moved to New York City from Maryland and was hired as a television director for ABC.
But his career in producing and directing sports television only lasted five and a half years, over 25 years ago. “I took a vacation in France,” says Rubin, “and I took a pastry course purely for fun. I loved it. I became a little obsessed about it. I decided to stay in France”. And just like that, Rubin began developing his love for baked goods and embarked on his journey that would one day lead him to own one of the most famous bakeries in all of NYC.
Rubin returned from France a year after his vacation was supposed to end, making his apprentice period an untraditional one. Usually, people stay for their apprentice period three to five years. Rubin describes his journey back to New York City through the discovery of bakeries: “When I got back to New York, I discovered that bakeries here were terrible. I didn’t know that until I came back to New York, and I went to every bakery in New York City; and like the first ten days I was here, I was like a maniac about it“. Rubin prides himself for traveling around New York to try his local competitors’ products but strays away from places such as Starbucks.
When speaking about the development of his bakery, Rubin seems to be talking about his own child. “City Bakery made its first profit in its fourth year and its made a profit ever since” explains Rubin. The City Bakery is widely known to tourists nowadays for their hot chocolate and freshly made marshmallows, which sell year-round.
Rubin has built his bakery from the ground up and created a reputation for his bakery that makes it be a satisfying part of the day for many New Yorkers. Rubin says “we’ve been selling a thousand cookies seven days a week for at least 15 years”.
The City Bakery has been growing with the neighborhood it is in. Almost 24 years after its opening, Rubin says “Union Square has gone from being a very quiet development projects to one of the most valuable neighborhood in New York and busy profile and great reputation”, and he is proud to have his bakery be a part of it.
Hundreds of New Yorkers and tourists roamed to 18th Street for City Bakery’s annual Hot Chocolate Festival, all to get a taste of the bakery’s infamous goods. But Rubin acknowledges that it is not easy staying in this business around the city and says that he has watched many local bakeries come and go around him, but the welcoming atmosphere and chirpy staff will keep drawing in people for many more years.
And even though Rubin may not have the traditional story to tell about how he became a baker, he proudly says “I’ve been the baker every day, the whole time”.