Hesh's Eclair Bake Shoppe, a Northeast Philadelphia institution that sold possibly the world's greatest chocolate-chip pound cake, is out of business after 54 years, according to signs posted in the window Saturday.
The reasons for the closing are unknown. Owners Bill and Sharon Krodthoff, who owned the bakery at 7721 Castor Ave. in Rhawnhurst for at least two decades, did not return phone calls since rumors began Thursday night after an employee posted an emotional message on Facebook.
Adding to the confusion was the shop's outgoing phone message, which said the shop would reopen Jan. 14 after vacation. As recently as Friday, the shop's mashgiach - the rabbi who regularly inspected the premises for its kosher certification - did not know of its status.
But late Saturday, the front window was shrouded from the inside with what appeared to be a blue print curtain, and two identical signs told customers: "Hi. It is with a very sad and heavy heart to tell you that Hesh's Bakery is now closed and will not be reopening. We thank you for your patronage. We will miss you. Sincerely, Hesh's." The message also was added to the website.
Hesh's Bakery opened in 1959 under the Braverman family. After the Krodthoffs took over, everything about the place remained, from the recipes to the sign, which even in 2014 still proclaimed the phone number as PI2-8575.
For many years, Hesh's was one of many kosher bakeries along Castor and Bustleton Avenues that accompanied the city's Jewish migration north out of Logan, South Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion, West Oak Lane and Wynnefield.
But with changing demographics and the rise of supermarket bakery departments, these stores have been dropping off, including Moishe's Addison and Michael's.
Mitch Lipkin of Lipkin's Bakery, about two blocks north at Castor Avenue and Rhawn Street, said he viewed the closing with concern and said it would not help his business. "I just hope they're all right," he said of the Krodthoffs.