With its affordable rent and unique charm, Baltimore became an attractive prospect for the popular New York City bakery Robicelli's, which recently announced plans to relocate here in 2016.
Married owners Allison and Matt Robicelli fell in love with the city after being lured to the region by an industry friend who moved here a year ago.
"We had been mulling a move out of Brooklyn for a long time, but it was really hard to pull the trigger on account of us being natives," Allison said.
Earlier this year, Allison took to Facebook to express things she missed about the New York City of old. She wondered about the quality of life for her children, and the future of the family's finances.
An industry friend who saw the post contacted the couple privately and introduced them to a developer in Baltimore. Allison said they hit it off with the developer and soon she and her family made their first trip to Baltimore.
"The moment we first stepped foot in Baltimore, we knew it was for us," she said. "The town is completely electric. There is an optimism and a spirit of innovation that I haven't felt in damn well near forever."
Matt echoed Allison's enthusiasm.
"I really love the arts district," he said. "It's alive there. ...There is a good vibe and heart to it."
The couple will close their retail operation in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve, but will continue to maintain a private store there for special orders and wholesale. They plan to announce their new Baltimore location after the holidays. An exact opening date has not yet been determined.
"We're going to be involved in both places," Matt said. "We will be in Baltimore full time. Every once in a while, we'll be back and forth."
New York customers have been devastated by the family's plans to move to Baltimore, according to Allison.
"We've already had people threaten to drive down to Baltimore to kidnap us and bring us back, even though the two of us aren't moving down until next summer," she said.
The Robicellis plan is to build their bakery's commercial kitchen in a mixed office and retail space near an abandoned strip center. The location is where all products will be made from scratch.
"It's risky, but if we succeed, we'll kick off the creation a lot of jobs in the area," Allison said.
Once the kitchen is built and operational, the Robicellis plan to open a stand-alone retail and cafe concept elsewhere, according to Allison.
"We'll be beginning a wholesale program in the greater Baltimore area," she said. "We have plans for more retail locations as we move forward, but right now, I'm concentrating on the next 18 months. I have a lot of stuff on my plate."
What do the Robicellis want to accomplish in Baltimore?
"The same thing we want to do every day: make millions of people happy," Allison said. "Let's make jobs, make people smile. Raise our kids surrounded by art, music, inventiveness and ideas. Let's dream, work hard, and have adventures."
The family is also searching for a Baltimore neighborhood to call home.
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"We're looking at the school districts right now," said Matt, who is also excited about Baltimore's pit-beef offerings and comic book and record stores. "It seems that all the record stores closed in New York and opened in Baltimore."