Rindelaub's closes its bakery in Center City

Posted: December 05, 2002

Auf Wiedersehen, Rindelaub's.

The Rittenhouse Square bakery, beloved for its dense, rich German chocolate cake, closed without notice last week after more than six decades on 18th Street. The window yesterday bore the nose prints of sweet-seeking customers, but not even a paper sign to tell the story, which is this:

"We couldn't do it any longer," said Evan Brodie, whose mother, Marlene, ran the store at 127 S. 18th St. with two helpers, one of whom had back surgery two months ago. "Physically, for her to get up at 2:30 in the morning . . . it's just sad."

Rindelaub's served customers on the day before Thanksgiving - its busiest day of the year - and never reopened.

Rindelaub's started out before World War II, in a shop directly across the street, as Fricke's. It evolved into a bakeshop, bakery counter and restaurant. In 1988, Marlene and Barry Brodie took it over, maintaining it as a solid plebeian bakery amid the gourmet shops springing up in the pricey neighborhood.

In early 2001, a developer's plans for a 33-story complex of luxury condominiums, offices and upscale retail shops forced several businesses, including Rindelaub's, to move. (That project has not gone forward, a spokeswoman for the city Historical Commission said yesterday.)

Rindelaub's found a storefront across the street, but it lacked the baking facilities and the restaurant. The family trucked down cakes, cookies and pies daily from its still-operating bakery and retail shop in Northeast Philadelphia.

Evan Brodie said the newer space lacked Rindelaub's "whole charm. . . . The only thing that stayed the same was the name and our recipes."

Brodie said the Center City shop required a family member on premises to keep it profitable. But the family was stretched too thin, he said. Marlene and Barry Brodie have the bakery at 7364 Frankford Ave., and Evan owns the Park South Diner on 19th Street as well as the 401 Diner in Conshohocken.

Contact Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com.

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