In the spring of 2010, we saw Les Desirs Patisserie shutter on 9th Avenue in Chelsea after a decade in business. A favorite socializing spot for seniors from the Penn South housing cooperative, Les Desirs was a special place. When Penn South refused to renew the lease, a petition circulated to save it and neighbors fought to keep it, but the bakery vanished anyway.
The upscale mini-chain Sullivan Street Bakery was rumored to take its place and, recently, it did.
Decked in lots of rustic wood and high bar stools, and manned by an army of green-shirted baristas (or whatever they call bread bakery counterpersons), Sullivan Street Bakery is nothing like Les Desirs.
When I visited Les Desirs, it was filled with octogenarians and they were singing Tin Pan Alley tunes. Together, we sang "Ukulele Lady" while the Hawaiian woman among them got up to do a hula dance. Maybe this still happens here, I don't know.
I saw one elderly, frail woman enter the Sullivan Street Bakery and she was treated with great kindness by the green shirts. But mostly, the clientele consisted of young professional-looking people, carrying little dogs and interacting with their phones. They didn't go to Les Desirs, and I never saw them around this area, but now they are here. They seem to have a sixth sense for when these types of places open, because they came through the door in flocks.
And they're too busy making phone calls to sing a group rendition of "Ukulele Lady."
Les Desirs Vanishing
Les Desirs Plus
Last Day at Desirs