Actually, the city has a couple of other bakeries, both located in Midtown. Cynthia Bakery and Paisano’s Bakery are roughly located across the street from each other on Broadway. Like so many of Midtown’s newer businesses, the bakeries are a tribute to the city’s vibrant Hispanic community. And downtown, at the corner of Broadway and Spring, you can look into the windows of the Reher Bakery Building and still see the marble counter tops, bread shelves, and signage of a once venerable Rondout institution/ Late owner Hymie Reher deeded his former building and shop to the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, which plans to turn the building into the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History. The project is an inspiring example of how a rarely preserved historic site can foster tourism and other new economic initiatives.
Deising’s was founded in 1965 by two immigrants from Hamburg, Germany, and under the expert management of four of their children—Eric, Norman, Kirsten, and Wright—the European-style bakery has thrived. The company has two locations—the main store is on North Front Street, along with a satellite location at tk Broadway—and 80 employees. What’s the secret of the bakery’s bustling business? “Good service and quality food at a reasonable price is a good formula for success,” says Eric. “Plus, good loyal customers.”
The goodies displayed behind its capacious glass counters represent a variety of traditions: bienenstick and black forest cake from Germany, napoleons and eclairs from France, baklava from Greece. There’s also a selection of Deising’s original concoctions, available no place else on earth; a favorite are the toothsome cheese crowns—puffed pastry filled with baker’s cheese. But what’s “anchored this store” are the hard rolls, Eric says. “People who’ve moved south and travel here stop by to pick up the hard rolls,” he notes. “They get bags and bags of them,” Another reliable item is the danish.
Forty percent of the business is wholesale: Deising’s supplies numerous restaurants, delis, hotels, and schools. The uptown store includes two catering facilities, and the bakery also has a restaurant altar ego, serving breakfast and lunch. Omelettes, waffles, burgers, deli sandwiches, and freshly made soups are on the menu.
While the Uptown business climate has improved over the years, Midtown has been more problematic, with the former population of blue-collar workers replaced by a welfare contingency. After years of disappointing sales, the company considered closing down the Midtown location, said Eric. However, it instead hired a new manager last April, and for the first time in five years, the store (which also serves breakfast and lunch) has been making a profit.
Deising’s has a website, www.deisings.com, and ships its rolls, breads, pound cakes and cookies. Store hours are 6 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday, open til 6 pm on Friday, til 5 pm on Saturday, and to 3 pm on Sunday; Midtown location is open 6 am to 1 pm every day.
If you’ve never tasted Mexican sweet bread, head over to Cynthia Bakery, at 579 Broadway. The brightly lit store, which is near the Indian restaurant in Midtown, opened two years ago and specializes in round, delicately sugared breakfast rolls, which sell for 80 cents to $1 each. Owner Raymando Ojeda and his sister are immigrants from Oaxaca who now live in Poughkeepsie, where they bake the bread and maintain another store. Ojeda said business is a little bit better than when he opened, but he’d like to get more customers; he’s eager for non-Hispanics to sample his bread. He also sells groceries. Cynthia Bakery is open 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, closed Sundays.
Another Mexican bakery, Paisano’s, located at 680 Broadway, opened a year and a half ago. Besides sweet bread, it serves a whole menu of traditional Mexican food. There’s also a pool table and festive music, so that a visit to the store is like taking a mini vacation to Mexico. Owner Hidalith Zapatita is from Newburgh and said she opened the shop in Kingston because she didn’t want to compete with other family businesses in her home city. Paisano’s is open Monday to Thursday from 7 am to 8 pm.
When Hymie Reher died in 2004, he deeded his family bakery, located at 101 Broadway. to the Jewish Federation of Ulster County. The non-profit organization has obtained grants for preservation of the property as well as for establishing the Reher Center of Immigrant Culture and History, which will function as a museum and research and education center related to the immigrant and mercantile history of the Rondout and surrounding area. The 1885 building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is graced with an Italianate cast-iron facade that is the last intact storefront to survive in the Historic Rondout District.
The Jewish Federation has so far obtained more than $500,000 in grant money to restore the building, with the final phase of construction due to commence this spring or summer. It still needs to raise $25,000 in matching funds to qualify for some of the grant money; if you’d like to contribute, call the federation at 338-8131 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The historic structure will help attract more visitors to Rondout, improve the street appeal, and hopefully spur business interest in the area, besides utilizing local contractors.