That new formula will gradually replace the original, as the couple cautiously reopens Ample Hills stores in Manhattan and Queens, and a new production facility and scoop shop in Industry City in Brooklyn. So far, they have no expansion plans beyond New York City. “We said yes one too many times,” Mr. Smith said.
Will their attempt at a second act go smoother than the first?
Their plan has a recent precedent: Last year, the Crumbs founders, Mia and Jason Bauer, bought back their brand for $300, they reinvented it as a supermarket and direct-to-consumer operation, with no stores. Their cupcakes and cookie jars are sold at New York City’s upscale supermarkets, and they’ve just raised $1.5 million toward expansion.
“All that money we spent on landlords and labor wasn’t necessary this time around,” Mr. Bauer said.
But the Ample Hills owners are doubling down on brick and mortar. “We want to know our customers again,” said Ms. Cuscuna, 53. She described the feeling of walking into the original store as “surreal.”
Mr. Smith, for his part, characterized his emotional state last week as “excited, grateful and terrified.”
Mr. Brodsky, the Ample Hills investor, isn’t worried. At 84, he has seen a lot.
“They built a brand that’s already been through bankruptcy twice and still exists,” he said. “That doesn’t happen unless you’re doing something pretty special.”
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