Leske’s closes, catching cake lovers off guard

BAY RIDGE — That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Bay Ridge residents are reacting with shock and sadness to the sudden closure of Leske’s, the beloved Scandinavian bakery on Fifth Avenue where generations of sweet-toothed customers bought cakes, breads and cookies, including the famous Black and White Cookie.

It’s not clear exactly what led to the abrupt closure of the iconic neighborhood bakery.

An official notice from the New York City marshal, dated Oct. 4, was posted on the front door of Leske’s at 7612 Fifth Ave. informing the public that the building’s landlord, Insphere Corp., had “taken legal possession of these premises pursuant to warrant of the Civil Court.”

Leske’s is owned by an entity known as Bread Depo Inc. The bakery first opened its doors in 1961.

The legendary shop was famous for Scandinavian treats like Kringler and its delicious Rugelach as well as its tasty Irish soda bread.

The bakery offered a wide selection of breads, carefully-crafted cakes, pastries and doughnuts, as well as brownies, cookies and other delectable desserts.

A notice from the New York City marshal informs the public that the bakery was closed following a civil court action.

Bay Ridge residents who are early risers and who walked past Leske’s before 6 a.m. would get to enjoy the sight of racks of fresh-from-the-oven loaves of bread placed on the sidewalk by the owners to cool.

“Damn! I can’t believe they’re closed,” one woman told the Home Reporter as she stood forlornly outside the closed gate of Leske’s on Monday morning reading the marshal’s notice through the slats in the gate. “I came here looking to buy bread. They always had good bread. I even liked their whole wheat bread.”

Ironically, Leske’s underwent a renovation earlier this year. The Christmas season, one of the busiest times of the year for the bakery, is just two months away.

News of the closure of Leske’s was shared on Facebook, where customers lamented the sudden departure of their favorite bakery and expressed hope that it could reopen at some point.

Councilmember Justin Brannan has stepped in to offer help.

“Leske’s is a legendary neighborhood institution. I was in touch with the owners all weekend offering my support. We are trying to find a way to get Leske’s back open as soon as possible,” Brannan told the Home Reporter in an email on Monday.

Brannan, whose wife, Leigh Holliday Brannan, owns the Art Room an art gallery-school on Third Avenue, expressed sympathy for the owners of Leske’s.

“As the husband of a small business owner, I know it’s not easy to run a small business in this city. They all need our support. We will do everything we can to rectify whatever issues there may be and get those bakery ovens back on soon,” he said.

Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, noted on his Facebook page that Leske’s closed for a short time back in 2012, but then reopened. “Hoping we can bring them back once again,” he wrote.

“So sad,” Pamela Thompson wrote to Brannan on Facebook. “Thank you for all that you do to help the community. My daughter got her first black and white cookie there. Now she’s almost 20. Leske’s is a huge part of Bay Ridge. I’m sure we all have a beautiful Leske’s story to tell.”

Neither the building’s landlord, Insphere Corp., nor the owners of Leske’s, Bread Depo Inc., could be reached for comment.

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