The sheer number of customers on Saturday at Glaser’s Bake Shop, a German bakery established in Yorkville over a century ago, might have made you think it was closing the next day.
In reality, “we’ve got four months to go,” said third-generation baker and co-owner Herb Glaser, “but if it stays this busy for four months . . . we’ll go out with a bang — which is the way to go.”
At age 65, Glaser and his brother John, 67, are ready to trade their 116-year-old family business for retirement, a post on the store’s Facebook page announced Friday. The news was first reported by Eater NY.
“It was a very difficult decision to come to,” said Glaser, who, alongside his sibling, bakes the Yorkville institution’s signature black-and-white cookies and its popular brownies Tuesdays through Saturdays. (Glaser’s nephew works with them part-time, too, but has chosen a different career path.) “We struggled with it for quite a while. But we realize what’s involved keeping [the bakery] going, and we just can’t anymore.”
In the Facebook notice of the shop’s impending closure on July 1, the Glasers and their employees thanked customers for “their patronage and . . . for having us as a part of your celebrations since 1902.”
Mournful expressions of gratitude and wishes for a happy retirement quickly poured in from loyal patrons, who recalled custom birthday cakes ordered, special holiday orders of Christmas Stollen (a traditional German fruit bread) and regular visits to the shop on First Avenue, close to 87th Street.
“I’ve been going here since I was born and the neighborhood won’t feel like same without the smell of cookies in the air and the warm smiles you are greeted with when you walk into Glaser’s,” one local wrote in her response to the news.
Herb Glaser said that while he knows his customers love the establishment he’s run for 43 years, he still appreciates hearing their warm sentiments — and, we assume, their pledges to drop by as often as possible over the next four months.
“I think what they’ll miss most is the atmosphere here, because it’s a real old-fashioned business and all the customers know us and we know them,” said Glaser, co-owner of the building at 1670 First Ave.
Although some would like to see the space — which boasts original white tile flooring and apothecary-style wood cabinets — remain an operating bakery, Glaser said that he and his brother are open to all kinds of buyers.
(More than one customer on Facebook expressed concern that CVS, a drugstore with at least seven locations on the Upper East Side, will claim the storefront.)
The Glasers also have yet to decide what kind of baked treat they will give away on the bake shop’s last day, but Herb knows exactly what he’s doing when he retires. He will be living full-time in his house in New Paltz, keeping himself busy by hiking, gardening, repairing antique clocks and possibly picking up the organ again.
Is there more baking in his future?
"No, unless I get really, really bored,” he said. “Then I think I can work part time up there someplace. There are bakeries up there.”
Before he hangs up his bakers’ hat for good, we’ve asked him to share the recipe for his black-and-white cookie recipe on camera, so stay tuned.