WESTFIELD, NJ — When Carlo’s Bakery opened in Westfield on Sept. 1, fans of “Cake Boss” Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro Jr. lined up for hours to catch a glimpse of the TLC reality show star and try some of the bakery’s famous treats.
But not everyone was so happy to see Carlo’s open shop down the block from Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, a town staple since 1949 with a very similar menu, from their Italian pastries to their novelty cakes.
In person and on social media, many locals expressed outrage—even hostility—in response to the television personality claiming his latest location as Westfield’s new “hometown” bakery.
"Westfield doesn't need another bakery," said one Facebook user in a local group in response to a story posted there from The Alternative Press.
Many said they planned to show their support for Bovella’s by shopping there Sept. 1, instead of heading to Carlo’s. One Bovella’s supporter even told the group that he was “going to egg the opening,” though no such egging was reported.
Carlo’s Chief Brand Officer Adam Bourcier told The Alternative Press that Carlo’s proximity to Bovella’s was unintentional.
“We looked at a few spaces in town and it just happened that 21 East Broad Street was the best fit for our needs,” Bourcier said. “We're not looking to take over the town. We both have our own specialties to offer the community.”
One difference between the two shops is Carlo’s open kitchen. Six-year Westfield resident Caroline Sutton said that her family enjoys the setup because it allows her daughters to watch the bakers make chocolate-covered strawberries. Sutton, a “Cake Boss” fan, also said that it was Carlo’s that opened her eyes to Italian pastries.
“I never ate cannolis, and I do now,” she said.
Jim Baker, interviewed at Westfield’s Rockn’ Joe Coffeehouse and Bistro nearby, said that he was impressed with Carlo’s assortment of baked goods and their presentation.
“This is economic Darwinism,” Baker said, “If [Bovella’s] can’t cut it, they’ll go under.”
Thirty seven-year Westfield resident Ed Cruikshank agreed with Baker, after recalling waiting on long lines at Bovella’s during holidays past.
“I like to see the old survive, but business is business,” Cruikshank said.
With lines for its fresh treats and breads still forming each day and the unmistakable sweet scent of Italian desserts still luring customers through its doors, many doubt Bovella’s will go under any time soon.
Meanwhile, Carlo’s may be helping to put Westfield on the world’s map—Bourcier said that though there are “no official plans yet” to film episodes of “Cake Boss” in Westfield, it’s certainly a possibility.
Additional reporting by Erin Scialabba.