HOBOKEN, N.J. (Reuters) - By spring, the little New Jersey shop where the "Cake Boss" got his start will have a different look, but Buddy Valastro, the self-taught master baker behind the hit reality TV show, vows the renovated store will still have "icing in the walls."
"That's what I tell people," said Buddy, laughing. "The building's 200 years old and has always been a bakery."
His business, known as Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, doubles as the backdrop for "Cake Boss" on TLC, a cable show that has been beamed to some 2 billion people in 190 countries worldwide
On the show as in life, Buddy runs the family bakery, opened in 1910 and acquired by his father in 1964. There the Cake Boss directs his team in creating elaborate, over-the-top cakes, not to mention pastries, cookies and fudge, while balancing an ample helping of family drama.
Starting Feb. 17, Buddy's flagship shop, across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, will close until early March for renovations, the bakery said on social media last week.
The announcement may have come as a disappointment to Buddy's fans. Legions of them travel from all over the world for the opportunity to come into Carlo's and buy some authentic Cake Boss sweets.
"We'll have new showcases, a fresh new look with an old world feel," Buddy explained to Reuters. "What I love about the plan is that there will be an open kitchen, so our customers can see our cakes come fresh out of the oven."
A recent early-afternoon visit by a reporter on what one employee called a slow day found about 20 customers in the store, and unlike busy times, there was no wait to get inside.
Local merchants and police said that on many days customers have to wait two or three hours to get through the door, standing in lines that can stretch for two city blocks.
Crowds are generally orderly, according to Sergeant Edgardo Cruz of the Hoboken Police Department. "People come from all over," Cruz said. "I've seen a tour bus from Georgia."
By the same token, some locals say they steer clear of the busy spot, even though, "veterans or Hoboken residents with ID can cut the line," Buddy said.
Born in Hoboken, the baker spent his early years above the original Carlo's on Adams Street, about 10 blocks away. "I've always been in and around Hoboken," Buddy said.
"I'm a Hoboken guy, and I know the town inside and out. I walk around and say hi to people I've known for years. And on the show, we always portray Hoboken in a good light. Businesses around here do better with us here."
As for the Cake Boss series, Buddy was mum on future plans, except to say an announcement was imminent.
Those with incurable sweet teeth need not worry about the temporary shutdown. The Cake Boss has five other New Jersey locations, one in midtown Manhattan and one in Las Vegas.
(This story corrects name of network to TLC in paragraph three)
(Editing by Frank McGurty, Cynthia Osterman and Eric Walsh)