Stuart Duchon of University Heights and his two grandchildren headed toward Pincus Bakery in University Heights for their normal Thursday night routine.
But this Thursday was different.
Duchon and his 5- and 2-year-old grandsons were greeted by signs in the windows on Sept. 15 announcing that after 48 years, Pincus Bakery was closed.
“We’ve been coming to Pincus almost every Thursday night,” said Duchon. “I pick them up for dinner, not Jack’s always, and get cookies from Pincus. Their dad will be sad to see it gone.
“I’ve been coming for a lot of years, since I was a kid. Sorry to see it go.”
Pincus Bakery, a landmark for 48 years at
2181 S. Green Road in the Cedar-Green Plaza, closed at 1:30 p.m. that day, said Larry Weiser, general partner of Cleveland-based Cedar Green Associates Inc., which owns the plaza at Cedar and South Green roads.
Two signs – one on the front window and one on the door – read:
“It is with deep regret that after 48 years we are closing Pincus Bakery. We sincerely thank all our wonderful and loyal customers for their patronage and friendship.”
The abrupt closing comes just weeks before the High Holy Days.
Rabbi Matthew J. Eisenberg of Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights, whose temple was one that served products from Pincus, said he was heartbroken when he learned of the closing.
“This afternoon I had lunch at Jack’s Deli with a friend of mine. I went to my car, he went to his car and his car was parked in front of Pincus, and he called me right away when he saw the sign,” Eisenberg said.
“I called (owner) Steve (Pincus) and offered my heartfelt sympathies. When you consider 48 years, all of the bar mitzvahs, all of the bat mitzvahs, all of the shiva trays and all of the simchas, these important lifecycle events, have been punctuated by the tastes of Pincus Bakery.
“When we order sweets, we order from Pincus and they had, to our tastes, the best hamantaschen in the city. We would go through dozens upon dozens of hamantaschen, so it is difficult to think of the void and the hope is, of course, those recipes will be able to be made, if not by Steve, maybe by someone else. I can’t think about that right now. It’s just very sad when a family business has to close its doors.
“The distinctive Jewish taste of this bakery is being lost. Hamantaschen, kichel and honey cake, even though other bakeries make it and make it well, they make it different. For High Holidays, we used to order from Pincus. Now, we’ll have to order from Davis (Bakery and Deli in Woodmere) or Unger’s (Kosher Market in Cleveland Heights) and do a taste test. That’s what you do and you figure it out.”
Joel Davis, president of Davis Bakery, said Sept. 15, “I talked to Steve yesterday, and Steve and I are competitors. We went to school together. I told Steve, from the heart, I really feel bad. I don’t like to see a competitor go down.”
While Davis predicted his business would increase, he expressed sadness at what is happening to small retailers, especially with the influx of big-box stores.
“It’s kind of an indication to what is happening to Jewish bakeries in Cleveland and around the country,” Davis said. “I see a lot of my customers there (at a big-box store) buying.”
Jim Ross, co-owner of Ellie’s Waffles, Smoothies and Sweets, located between Jack’s and Pincus, said, “It’s always sad to see a legacy go, something that’s been there for so long.”
Ellie’s, which has expanded its bakery, hopes to be able to pick up the slack, Ross said.
Pincus declined comment when reached by the CJN.
This is the second iconic bakery to close in the Cedar-Green area in less than 18 months. In May 2015, Lax & Mandel Bakery across the street at 14439 Cedar Road in South Euclid closed after 60 years of being in business. Lax & Mandel, a kosher bakery that started in Cleveland Heights, closed when its last owner, Barak Ben-Tor, became ill and a buyer couldn’t be found. Ben-Tor died in February 2016 at age 43.