Pratzel's Bakery, Formerly of University City, Now in Creve Coeur, Shutting Down Sunday
Former University City bakery has been an institution in the St. Louis area for more than 90 years.
Creve Coeur resident Caryn Sandweiss thought someone had died when her husband called and told her he had terrible news Wednesday. While that wasn't the case, she still called what she heard next devastating. Pratzel's Bakery, which had been housed inside Kohn's Deli in Creve Coeur since moving from University City in 2007, will close for good Sunday afternoon. The bakery used to have a retail home in Creve Coeur at Ballas and Olive for 15 years before closing in 2003, and the bakery has been serving the sweet tooth needs of St. Louis for 98 years.
"In high school and college we used to go down to the bakery in U-City at midnight and grab donuts out of where they were frying them," she said Thursday afternoon, as she stood in line placing an order for her son in Chicago. "This is huge. Every time my kids have friends over we get these cupcakes on the weekend. Her friends from college are not even Jewish, they all know Pratzels." The bakery was doing brisk business Thursday with a steady line of customers and local media taking note of what was happening.
Ron Pratzel who along with Elaine Pratzel were the principals behind the bakery, have spent the last year in search of a buyer for the operation, as the economy took a toll. While the retail side was thriving, wholesale, which included sales to hotels, hospitals, country clubs, America's Center and Scottrade Center was not, and it accounts for 75 percent of the family owned and operated business. "Those sales have definitely been impacted by this economy. We didn’t lose people we still have accounts, but we lost enough business, 15-20 percent of those accounts that it really was the tipping point that left us in a situation where we couldn’t continue," Ron Pratzel told Creve Coeur Patch. While he says the economy has shown signs of improvement, Pratzel said raw material and fuel costs have skyrocketed to the point where a recovery would not happen soon enough to sustain further losses.
Since word of the bakery's closure has spread, the family has been inundated with customers calling, emailing words of support. Caryn Sandweiss for one, was in to place an order for a "Pratzel's Party" on Sunday. "It is an institution. It was a family owned business where the family was always on the premesis. The family was always literally baking things and I think that makes a big difference…its more than just the product," Elaine Pratzel said.
While Kohn's Deli does hope to partner with another deli in the future, Elaine says those same well-wishers have been asking them where they can turn for bakery goods. "I tell them I have the same problem, where am I going to get good bread and bagels once we close," she said.