In Yorkville, the Last Days of a German Bakery

In Yorkville, the Last Days of a German Bakery

“It’s time for my brother to retire and enjoy our lives while we still have our health,” said Herb, 65, who has run the family business with his 67-year-old brother, John, since their father died in 1999.

John Herbert Glaser — Herb’s grandfather and a professional baker in his native Germany who immigrated to the city — opened Glaser’s in 1902, after buying the building that houses it.

John started off selling loaves of bread but quickly expanded to cakes and cookies. His son and Herb’s father, also named Herb, stepped in to run Glaser’s in 1935, when he was only 18, after John died unexpectedly of an infection. The younger Herb and John are the current — and the last — Glaser generation in charge of the bakery. John arrives at 3 a.m. and leaves by the early afternoon while Herb, who lives above the business just as his father and grandfather did, starts at 8 a.m. and stays all day. The brothers intend to sell the building after the bakery closes. Herb said that he plans to relocate to New Paltz, N.Y., where he has a house.

Many of the pastries, breads and cookies on offer date to the bakery’s turn-of-the-century founding, Herb said. Glaser’s also inherited a few recipes, including cherry honeybee cookies, from Kramer’s Pastries, another German bakery in the neighborhood, after it closed in 1999. Once Glaser’s closes, it’s possible that the traditional German recipes it has helped keep alive will disappear along with it.

Later that afternoon, Sara Evans, a customer of 40 years, walked in and asked what kinds of Danishes were available. Apple, cheese, pecan and prune were among the choices, and after debating about which one to buy, Ms. Evans settled on apple. “Everything is so good that it’s hard to pick, and that’s why I’m in here too often,” she said.

Ms. Evans was lucky; she was able to buy her apple Danish right before the next customer rush. As the bakery filled with people, Terri Cooney, an assistant baker for 20 years, kept things calm, repeatedly saying: “The floor is yours, and you control the speed of the ride. Take your time and enjoy it.”

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