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April 26, 2011 > History: Bakeries

History: Bakeries

People have been making bread for thousands of years; the Egyptians are typically credited with inventing ovens used to bake it. Bread was offered to pagan gods and sometimes used as money. Other cultures refined milling procedures and baking methods. Hungarians were described as talented bakers, famous for Vienna bread.

Historian Myron Wood noted that Philip Thorn opened a bakery and restaurant at Alvarado in 1855 in partnership with Conrad Hensel. He had learned the baker trade in New York State and saw a need for his services in Alvarado. The 1867 Business Directory lists August Heyers as proprietor of an Alvarado bakery.

Max Sigrist advertised "White and brown bread fresh every day" at his bakery in Mission San Jose in 1875. He also carried "wines and liquors of every kind, wholesale and retail, and California Wines made by himself."

Legler and Murphy were proprietors of the Mission Bakery for seven years. They sold bread, pies and cakes made fresh daily and even delivered to Irvington. The local paper noted in 1892 that Mrs Murphy had handled the ribbons of the bakery team for months past and was now going into the general merchandise business in Niles.

The Township Register observed in 1909 that there was "only one bakery in the township, but it is class A." Actually there were other bakeries, but G. D. Darrow had just opened his new bakery in the Connor's building in Niles and was getting most of the publicity. Darrow installed his first oven with a capacity of 1,000 loaves every 10 hours. Only Sanitary bread pans were used. An ice cream and soda parlor offered added inducement to customers besides the pies, cakes, buns and cream puffs.

Darrow named his shop The Model Bakery and added a line of Peters Chocolates," the best in the market." By 1911 he had added a coffee with dancing parlor and was also selling hot tamales, cigars and post cards. The local paper noted that the Model Bakery had "one of the best window displays ever seen in Niles."

H. W. Nurnberg was proprietor of the Centerville Bakery in 1910. It was advertised as "a Home Industry that produced the very best bread, pies, cakes and pastry in the market." By 1913 A. Bartoletti was proprietor and featured "Pan de basa, Crema, genuine French bread." Wagons delivered to all parts of the township. The bakery motto was, "Why should the housewife worry over her holiday party when the Centerville Bakery can supply everything cheaper than it can be made at home."

Niles Tavern, located next to the Rose Garage, advertised in 1917 that housewives could now get "The Best Bread to be had in Niles at the Tavern." The bread was made by the French Bakery in Oakland. The Tavern also served lunches, ice cream, soft drinks and offered a fine line of Christmas Candies.

Whitfield Bros. advertised pies, cakes, fresh bread, hot lunches and confections along with prompt service and courteous treatment at the same time. The bakery business in Niles must have been competitive because Darrows, now run by Milton Fournier, was still operating, bringing the total number of bakeries in Niles to three.

Chocolates appeared to be good sellers in bakeries. H. G. Stratton advertised that he was the township agent for Baum's and Lehnhardts chocolates.

The Excelsior Bakery and Grocery in Centerville beckoned in 1923 by saying "Come to us for the Best" and by 1935 had dropped the word grocery from its name. Mr. Correia and Mr. Caminada were the owners in 1947. W. T. Weaver was proprietor of Niles Quality Bakery in the twenties. Paul Coleman was operating the Irvington Bakery in 1946 and delivering daily to retail merchants of the township.

Rationing restrictions during World War II prevented house deliveries because supplies were short and rationed at times. Proprietors generally were happy to put up with these difficulties to support the war effort.

Lawrence Rose worked for the Irvington Bakery in Irvington and the Mighty Nice Bakery in Hayward. He wanted his own bakery so he and his wife Emiline opened Sunrise on Main Street in Centerville in 1937. They started with two trucks and used equipment they bought from the Sichel Bakery Supply in San Francisco.

Lawrence planned delivery routes and loaded a truck to sell all he could. Bread was seven cents a loaf and cookies 15 cents a dozen. He sold all he had in the truck during his first trip. The business expanded rapidly and a year later they were operating three delivery trucks. In 1955 Lawrence moved the bakery to Newark, dropped the routes and purchased Katherines Bakery. A 1955 photo showed Lawrence Rose coaching Richard Ahebein, Richard Alberts and Dan Farber in the fine art of cake baking. They were advertising the annual cake-bake contest for male members of Newark Playhouse. Lawrence retired in 1974.

The first bakeries listed in the Fremont Shopping Guide were Buttercrest, Sunrise and Excelsir in Centerville, Cliff's in Mission San Jose and Sunrise in Irvington. By 1963 the category was labeled "Bakers" instead of "Bakeries." Cliff's was on Stevenson Blvd., Coopers in Fashion Center, Dutch on Ellsworth Street, Niles Outlet on Niles Boulevard and Sunrise in both Centerville and Newark.

More recent directories have a variety of listings such as Bakers equipment, repairing, supplies, retail and wholesale. Sometimes cookies and cakes even get separate listings. Grocery stores feature "fresh baked goods" and there are pastry specialists of all kinds.

In modern times a number of bakeries have been established in the area that present a variety of bakery products from around the world. Amia Bakery in the Fremont Hub, for example, offers pastries from the Philippines and the Middle East.

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