This trend isn't surprising, given New York's food history. Signature eateries always include pizzerias, bagel shops, and delis, which are in themselves specialty shops of a kind.
I think the trend is also driven by the "cupcake craze" that started in 2000 or 2001. Dessert cafes have been around for a while, but New Yorkers (and eventually the rest of the world) really took to the idea that a dessert cafe could focus on one special item and make it better than anyone else. Maybe it's more a marketing ploy than anything else, the promise of selectivity and elite status. It also helps that specialty shops can get away with having a smaller space and thus lower rent, which in New York is a business-life saver.
Here are some other New York City speciality eateries that I recognize as being part of this trend:
- Stanton Meatball Shop
- Luke's Lobster (see my review here)
- Rice to Riches, a rice pudding shop
You could argue that Shake Shack should be on this list, but I think it straddles a fine line. Hamburger stands aren't quite as quintessentially "New York" as pizzerias and bagel shops, but they're up there.
Are there others I've missed on this list? Comments welcomed! What about in other cities? Has anyone else noticed this same trend?