Bath Beach Carvel Owners Richie And Rosa Stakofsky Honored By Borough President For Philanthropy

Bath Beach Carvel Owners Richie And Rosa Stakofsky Honored By Borough President For Philanthropy
BP Eric Adams recognizes Richie and Rosa Stakofsky as June’s “Heroes of the Month” ; they are joined by a representative from Carvel (far right). (Source: BP Eric Adams’ Office)

When David Stakofsky was alive he used to say, “Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you.”

Today, at Bath Beach’s Carvel (2166 Bath Avenue) — the store that David and his son Richie purchased together more than 35 years ago — that mantra lives on.

Husband-and-wife team Richie and Rosa Stakofsky were honored by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as June’s “Heroes of the Month” for their philanthropy and devotion to the neighborhood on Friday, June 12.

“Since the time we opened, we’ve done well. We’ve been here 38 years and it feels good to give back,” said Richie.

Over the last 15 years, the couple has organized countless fundraisers from their store, from their ongoing penny drives to benefit Leukemia research, to their biannual Red Cross fundraisers — some through Carvel and others on their own dime — which includes giving away hundreds of free ice cream treats to neighborhood kids.

When Cabbage Patch celebrated its 25th Anniversary by issuing special Carvel-themed dolls, available at the ice cream stores, Richie and Rosa decided to donate all 40 of their dolls to the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kids line up down the block to get their free ice creams.

Health causes hit close to home for the Stakofskys. For example, 40 years ago, Richie’s sister became one of the country’s earliest kidney transplant recipients, thanks to an organ donation from their father.

Then, several years ago, Richie was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Rosa had to take over the day-to-day responsibilities at the store, working the long shifts on her feet from 9am to midnight. Richie has since undergone numerous surgeries, including a hip replacement, spinal surgeries, and a plate in his neck, which he says has made him more compassionate to those, especially children, who are stuck in hospital beds.

But Richie’s health problems have not stopped him from putting in long hours at the Carvel store each day — a work ethic and customer service style he says he owes his father.

“My father always used to say ‘Your customers, they’re the ones. Without them you have nothing. Just when you think it’s perfect, do it better,'” said Richie, who now takes care of the company’s finances.

In fact, he said it felt appropriate that last week’s recognition from the borough president came nearly 22 years after David Stakofsky died from a massive heart attack in the same store, two days before Father’s Day.

The Stakofskys’ kindness and generosity extends beyond their customer service and charity work. Over the years, Richie says many employees and former employees have become like family to him and his wife.

“It’s weird, because you have employees who started working for you when they were kids, and now they have their own kids, and their kids come in and ask for a job,” he said.

Richie and Rosa Stakofsky at their Carvel store.

The Bath Beach Carvel has had its share of bumps over the years. American holiday orders have taken a hit, according to Richie, particularly as Bath Beach, once an Italian and Jewish enclave, transformed into a melting pot of many different immigrant, ethnic and religious groups. The economic recession and sky-high rents also caused many of Carvel’s Brooklyn locations to fold, but that hasn’t stopped one small, neighborhood Carvel from from thriving.

“We are constantly busy with cakes for birthdays and anniversaries. If I could, I would probably make the store bigger,” said Richie. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re here for the long haul.”