By  on September 16, 2011

Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould is generally a light eater, though when it comes to serving it up at the store, the appetite is growing.

“I don’t know about other department stores, but we are in the entertainment business and that means a lot of different things — one of them is food,” Gould said in an interview, just before Magnolia Bakery opened today inside Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship. “Certainly in this building, there’s enormous opportunity for more food. I think it’s been underplayed.”

Department stores across the U.S. generally don’t see the potential to sell more food or don’t want to bother. “In London and Berlin, food takes a more impactful place,” Gould noted.  

Bloomingdale’s has been seizing the opportunity, gradually adding culinary options in recent years such as David Burke and Flip for hamburgers at the flagship, which also operates Forty Carrots, Le Train Blue and B Cafe. Charlie Palmer operates in Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa, Calif.,  and there’s Daikanyama, a Japanese restaurant, in Bloomingdale’s Chestnut Hill, Mass., store.

The new Magnolia Bakery, situated on the Third Avenue side of the 59th Street flagship, is a leased business occupying 850 square feet. It has entrances both inside the store and from Third Avenue and will operate seven days a week, before and after store hours, expecting to see traffic from early morning and into the evening.

Magnolia’s complete menu of baked goods, including breakfast muffins, cakes, pies, cookies, cheesecakes, pudding and cupcakes, as well as Magnolia Blend Coffees and Harney Teas, is offered. The business is owned by Steve and Tyra Abrams, and has been operating since 1996, when it opened its first site in Greenwich Village. There are more locations in the city, in addition to the Bloomingdale’s site. Magnolia will open in Chicago this month and launch an online store this fall. There are also locations in Los Angeles, as well as inside Bloomingdale’s in Dubai, suggesting the universal appeal of cupcakes.

“The bakery has done extremely well at our Dubai store,” Gould said. And for 59th Street, “it was just the right kind of thing. It’s fun. It’s New York. It’s of the moment.”

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