Lee, Lee’s Bakery in Harlem to bake no more

By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLife
I called over today to Lee, Lee’s Bakery to order a large red velvet cake for an upcoming summer party. Cake is a product I ordered often from Mr. Lee, especially red velvet cake, cause it tastes delicious and it was always a hit at parties. But now, I cannot do this any more. I was told the unthinkable today by someone answering the phone at Lee, Lee’s. They said I had to order now and pick up ASAP in order to have my cake. I was told the last day of business for Lee, Lee’s Bakery in Harlem is this Monday, May 31.
I immediately asked what the H, E, double tooth pick happened? The person said, it’s the red, we are in the red. I said, I thought things were looking up with new orders of your product to places like Best Yet Market. The response I got was orders such as this stopped. Total silence. Then we hung up!
I have to say upfront, I am so heart broken to hear this news. Not only did I like my red velvet cake from Lee, Lee’s, but I enjoyed talking to Mr. Lee himself, who I found to be so sweet, kind and loveable. In addition, I encountered a loyal following of this place when I moved to Harlem more than five years ago. When I needed sweets, most people in Harlem would direct me to Lee, Lee’s Bakery on 118th.
The only thing I can think of now is to make a public plea on this site to try and save Lee,
Lee’s Bakery in Harlem. It’s worth a try…right?
Is there anyone out there who can help Mr. Lee? Does anyone know of someone who has revived local businesses before? If so, here is an opportunity. This man has wonderful baked products. He may need help with marketing, PR, and business management. But overall the goods are there. If you can help or know someone who can, call 917-493-6633 or visit the bakery at 283 West 118th Street in Harlem.
In closing, all I can say is Where is Construction Intervention for bakeries? Where is ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover when you need them? And most of all, where is Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres when you need them? Fans of Lee, Lee’s Bakery in Harlem are calling!

23 thoughts on “Lee, Lee’s Bakery in Harlem to bake no more”

  1. Send me some Rugelachs in small portions along with an invoice. Send to: 506 S. Main St.
    Tuskegee, Al. 36083

  2. Congratulations on the re-opening of your business! What is Rugelach or Rugelahs? This seems so popular that I can taste it in my mouth. I imagine it is good to the last bite.

    Photos portray a nice and attractive shop! Good luck and give God the glory.

  3. Let me first thank everyone for extending your love at the re-opening today. Lee Lee’s will be showing our gratitude on Father’s Day with our very own Chocolate Rugelachs carrot muffins, Bread Pudding and Danishes. You are welcome between the hours of 10: to 4: p.m For any special requests, please call; 917- 493- 6633.

  4. It is time to celebrate again, Lee Lee’s Baked Goods is re-opening on Saturday, June 19, 2010. The phone number for all of your favorite orders is; 917 493- 6633

  5. is there any way to get in touch with Mr. Lee? His rugelach were the best, the chocolate chip cookies to die for, and the carrot muffins…YUM

    I would love to be able to bulk order some of the rugelach for a party…

  6. Perhaps they could approach Best Yet about moving the store WITHIN Best Yet itself? Does anyone know the parties involved and help explore this and other options?

  7. If the area has lost traffic and he still wants to bake then move locations. There are enough empty store front in Harlem and the UWS that would welcome him and be in a better traficed area.

  8. This is devastating to me – I ADORE his ruggelahs – that said – does anyone know who will be selling his ruggelahs after the store closes?

    Some comments above mentioned “wholesale” but does anyone know who he will be selling to in the future? I had only bought from his store. There is a ruggelah size hole in my heart now that Lee Lee’s is no more.

  9. I am so sorry to hear the news. I just found Lee Lee’s a couple of weeks ago and Mr. Lee is such a nice person. His rugelach is absolutely amazing. I am moving around the corner to 117 St. and was really looking forward to becoming a regular customer of Lee Lee’s. Perhaps he will find a way to stay open. Let’s hope so.

  10. This is such a sad story. We all love Mr. Lee and his goods so much, even all my friends from Germany go there to buy his rugelachs, leave alone my Jewish friends in New York City ,to enjoy them for a long time.
    It is difficult for a man, who is such a wonderful
    baker to also think of all the business part. Is there nobody who is a marketing expert and can help Mr. Lee?
    He and Ms. T, need to be supported.
    Please help!!!

    GOOD LUCK !!!!


    GOOD LUCK !!!!

  13. @afinelynn. Thanks so much for the comment. Its obvious we are all shocked about the news. I hope our recent efforts can make a difference.

    @Neiuw. We have you on our blog roll. And saw your post on Lee, Lee’s.

    @anon. Check out Neiuw’s post on Lee, Lee’s. It has joined in on the call for action to help our local bakery!

  14. Great pic’s, HarlemGal – and much appreciated support of this fine local bakery. The loss of that organization on his block that brought him so much business was quite a blow. Hopefully you have brought his wonderful bakery to the attention of new potential customers.

  15. “I am starting from a place of trust, belief and non judgement…I choose not to start from a negative place.”

    You seem to have a warped sense of reality. As Neiuw stated, quality of product is only one of many aspects to running a successful business. One should not have to feel like they are going out of his/her way to support a business. If it’s viable, you will support it because it offers you a total experience that you can’t get elsewhere. This is especially true of a business in your neighborhood, as it already has a convenience advantage. With all that said, Mr. Lee seems to have a lot of fans. I hope he can get the help he needs to stay open. But in business, only the strong survive.

  16. I think Kennected raises valid questions (not putting down the universe or anything). Starting “from a place of trust, belief and non judgement[sic]” or ” a negative place” is irrelevant when you’re trying to be realistic. Does the owner have a passion to continue to run a retail bakery? That’s a completely valid question and one that needs to be answered if his shop is to be saved. Another blog (www.harlembespoke.blogspot.com) also has a posting on this and commentors have noted that he plans to focus on his wholesale sale of rugelahs.

    It’s also true that a business has to be able to compete in a difficult and competitive retail environment. Product is one (essential) component, but not the only one. What about marketing? Customer service? Selection? Location? If the universe is on your side, fantastic, but I’d rather have these in place just in case. What’s the saying – if you’re in a rowboat on a lake when a huge thunderstorm rolls in, pray to God, but don’t stop rowing!!

    1. @Neiuw thank you for your comments. And yes, both you have valid comments.
      I have spoken to Mr. Lee and his business partner. They unequivocally want to continue running the bakery. Mr. Lee told me himself that he loves nothing more than to bake. He has run into having no business at all since the clinic across the street from him closed. He would love to be saved if there is anyone out there that can assist.

  17. So sad. I’ve lived around here for years and never even knew this store existed.

    Maybe that is part of the problem? Is this gentleman’s business and business plan solid?

    I hate to see a independent/unique store lost, along with the history it holds, but if they are not equipped to compete is it worth saving just to “save”? Does the owner have the passion to change to compete?

    1. @kennected. Thank you for the quick comments.
      As a blogger, I am starting from a place of trust, belief and non judgement. I believe in Mr. Lee. Everyone has the potential to succeed in todays environment. Maybe Mr. Lee just needs some help? We don’t know all the details of what’s going on, but what we do know is this place of business operated for a very long time with solid product. Something is there. I am just starting from a place of pure belief. If the universe tells us something different later, fine. I choose not to start from a negative place. What do others think?

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