Greenville Avenue wasn’t the only place where massive crowds gathered this weekend. With the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for drunken revelry and/or smoked meats, fans of the TV show Cake Boss flooded Preston Center early Saturday morning to celebrate the grand opening of Carlo’s Bakery. This is the 13th location for the New Jersey-based chain.
Cannoli connoisseurs don’t play. Dallas police were on hand for crowd control of a five-deep line that wrapped around the building. Some people traveled for hours, battling car breakdowns to get their hands on some goodies. Many brought sleeping bags, camping out overnight in near-freezing temperatures to hold their place in line. At 8:30 a.m., bakery staff began letting customers in small groups. It wasn't until 10 a.m. that some of these overnighters headed home, brandishing peppermint twine-tied boxes like trophies.
Why so much hype over pastries? Cake Boss has a loyal fan following. Many people feel like they know Buddy Valastro (aka the "Cake Boss") and his family, who have passed down the family business for generations, through watching the show. For these fans, it's more than just the food. Some brought neon-colored "We love you Buddy!" signs. At least one grand opening attendee brought a present for Buddy: a St. Anthony sculpture (Valastro wears his father's St. Anthony medal to remember him). As Buddy says, the fans are part of "la famiglia."
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Even if you've never heard of the show, a quick glance at Carlo's pastry case will probably turn you into a fan. Carlo's offers an alluring variety of sweet treats, including chocolate-dipped strawberries and cupcakes. Traditional Italian desserts are their signature. Cannolis, seven-layer cookies that look like Italian flags and a twist on the sfogliatella, dubbed "lobster tails," all offer a taste of the family's heritage. The family's lobster tail recipe had gone untinkered with since the first store's opening in 1910, but the Dallas debut inspired three new versions of the cream-filled, flaky pastry: Oreo, Nutella and salted caramel.
Ordering a custom cake? Carlo's has in-store iPads, encouraging customers to be a part of the creative process. Online grab-and-go ordering is available for several of their other locations but hasn't gone live for Dallas yet. We can only hope this will happen soon; otherwise, it's time to invest in a top-of-the-line sleeping bag.
Carlo’s Bakery is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. every day except Friday, when it stays open until 10 p.m.
Carlo’s Bakery, 8319 Preston Road, carlosbakery.com