Gingerbitz, an eat-in bakery launched on Elm Street more than four years ago by a New Canaan couple, is to close Friday. Karen Zuckert said she and her husband, Andrew, have forged many new friendships through the business and “are very sorry to leave.”
“We really wanted to create something very special for the town,” she saId. “We live in town, we care about it. It’s disappointing. There is just not enough business in town to keep going and to the standard that we would like to keep it.”
Named after a sobriquet that had been bestowed on Karen by her late father-in-law, Donald Zuckert, the cozy shop offered her signature baked goods—including custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies—as well as an eclectic menu of sandwiches, salads, coffees and more.
Parking enforcement officers in New Canaan are under instructions to make sure motorcycles aren’t parking in a yellow-striped area at the intersection of Elm Street and South Avenue following a dispute regarding a similar practice up the block. Karen and Andrew Zuckert, owners of a business on Elm Street, told members of the Parking Commission that they’d been allowed for two years to park their motorcycles in a yellow-striped area in front of the former Brotherhood & Higley building. Yet, having been told by parking officials that it was OK to pull into that area, Andrew Zuckert then suddenly was ticketed for the practice, he told members of the commission at their regular monthly meeting in the course of appealing the ticket. “I don’t understand why,” he said at the May 5 meeting, held at Town Hall. “That’s my only issue.
New Canaanites have plenty of reasons to shop and dine locally, and those reasons go far beyond the fact that the village center has scores of independent businesspeople—retailers, restaurateurs, service providers—who work here and have had a tough go with the weather these past few weeks. Our owners-on-site specialize in their fields and offer a wide range of expertise. They support most every community event that locals associate with the town—fishing derby, Waveny summer concerts, Santa’s visit, little league, Holiday Stroll, ice cream social, Halloween Parade. It’s hard to find two important community events in a row in New Canaan that aren’t sponsored in some way by Walter Stewart’s, Karl Chevy or both. Because familiarity breeds conversation and rapport, we can come to know our local small business owners and workers better than we may at, say, out-of-town chains. The slideshow above is a testament to that strong connection—click through to learn more about some of those who make up the economic lifeblood of the business district.
Karen Zuckert describes the eat-in bakery that she and husband Andrew soft-opened Saturday on Elm Street as “an extension of our home.”
Asked what it feels like to open a physical storefront after “hiding in the kitchen” (her words) for 21 years, earning a loyal following for her artistic baked goods, Karen said, “It’s like a homecoming.”
“I’m happy to see all my customers come here and see them so excited when they walk through the door. It’s meaningful,” Karen said Thursday afternoon as Gingerbitz filled up quickly with passersby catching sight of the newly opened shop through its street-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows. Nestled in the former Caroline’s Créperie space, the elegant Gingerbitz occupies what had been the only vacant (or at least non-operating) street-level commercial storefront on Elm between Main and Park. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Gingerbitz includes 15 seats (there’ll be eight more out front if and when Spring arrives), features fresh “moody blues” (garden roses) on the tables, area artists’ work (for sale) on the walls, found materials-made light fixtures and clock, and its edible offerings are anchored by Karen’s baked goods. With chef Ashley Boucaud (trained at Providence, RI-based Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts), the Zuckerts offer an eclectic menu: sandwiches (imported French brie and ham, roast chicken); salads (fresh goat cheese, marinated tomato tart on field greens), organic smoothies (soon), fresh-squeezed juices, Stumptown coffees, soft-serve ice cream, pots of tea, chutneys and of course, pastries and baked goods (Karen works with Guittard chocolate).