This story was originally published in Newsday on Jan. 12, 2007.
Entenmann's celebrated its centennial in 1998 with a parade down Main Street in Bay Shore featuring a 42,000- pound crumb cake and an army of children dressed as chocolate chip cookies.
In the '50s, Frank Sinatra used to call the bakery once a week to order its crumb cake.
Now, the crumb cake and the cookies are moving out. George Weston Bakeries, Inc., U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company that now owns the Long Island baker, says it will stop baking cakes and cookies at Entenmann's 14-acre plant in north Bay Shore by next October and, over an 18-month period, cut about 350 of the 1,100 jobs there.
The Bay Shore bakery will continue to bake pies and Danish, spokesman Lou Minella said. But the Entenmann's cookies on local store racks will be trucked in from an Albany plant that also bakes Freihofer's, another bakery owned by Weston. The crumb cake will come from Pennsylvania. Doughnuts left Bay Shore for Carlisle, Pa., three years ago.
"Future success in Bay Shore will be predicated upon the efforts of all employees to maximize production efficiencies on the remaining product lines," Weston said in its statement on the moves.
It's been decades since the bakery has been owned by an Entenmann, though family members remain as community leaders. The Entenmanns, who ran their business for three generations and began production at the current location in 1961, sold the business to pharmaceutical giant Warner-Lambert for $233 million in 1978. It has changed hands several times since then.
Not long after George Weston Ltd. bought Entenmann's last owner, Bestfoods, for $1.77 billion in 2001, it unveiled a series of cost-cutting measures and layoffs, and closed Entenmann's plants in Chicago and Miami.
Today, Weston calls Entenmann's Bay Shore plant the largest bakery of its kind in the United States. But it also sees it as an outdated and inefficient plant in a region with high utility costs and taxes, Minella said.
Minella would not speculate about further cutbacks or an end to baking at the plant, which handles production, distribution and administration.
"We're focused on making the plant successful and optimizing it around Danish and pies," he said.
Minella said the plant will remain a regional distribution hub for the crumb cake and cookies. But for some residents, they will never taste quite the same.
"Everyone knows Entenmann's on Long Island, and everyone was always proud of Entenmann's on Long Island," said Donna Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore. She helped organize that 1998 centennial parade, at which a section of Fifth Avenue was renamed for the baking dynasty.
"It makes me sad to see it."