It was a sad surprise for generations of Roxborough residents Monday as they learned about the closure of a beloved neighborhood bakery.
Family-owned Eiselen’s Pastry Shoppe, located at 7130 Ridge Avenue in the Ivy Ridge Shopping Center, closed after 50 years in business.
According to former employee Blair Rice, the bakery was forced to close because of a disagreement with the Superfresh grocery store in the same shopping center.
“It was a deal in the lease with Superfresh that after this bakery, no other bakery was allowed to come here unless it was family owned,” she said.
Since the owner’s children were all grown up, Rice said, the owner tried to sell his business, but couldn’t due to the lease restrictions.
“[The owner] tried to renew the lease and [the property owner] upped the rent $1,000 a month,” she said. “They basically chased him out because of Superfresh.”
Rice said the bakery was part of a Roxborough tradition, with many families returning for several generations-worth of christening cakes, bar mitzvah cakes and wedding cakes.
The bakery was also, Rice said, one of the only parve bakeries in Philadelphia.
Rice, who had been working at the bakery as a cake decorator for the past eight years, said her last day was Saturday and she’s looking for a job at a new bakery.
Meanwhile, locals feel at a loss without the neighborhood staple.
Roxborough resident George Gardiner Sr. said that although he had only been to the bakery about a dozen times, it was a special place for the neighborhood.
“I guess you might call it a local landmark,” he said.
Dylan Gillespie, a 27-year-old resident, said the bakery was part of his childhood.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life,” he said, standing in front of the store trying to, instead, make due with a water ice from Rita’s. “I just found out yesterday on Facebook that it closed.”
Some of his friends on Facebook were voicing words of disappointment via status updates.
Gillespie also said his family frequents the bakery.
“My sister lives right down the block from here and she comes here all the time,” he said.
The shop was also known to bring a different flavor to Roxborough.
“It’s always sad to see any store closing especially when they bring something that’s different,” said Bernard Guet, Roxborough Development Corporation’s executive director. “We don’t have too many pastry shops.”
Although businesses like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and various grocery stores have sweet treats in stock, Eiselen’s was the only designated bakery.
Roxborough resident John Maltese said the bakery closing left a sour taste in his mouth.
“They’re going away, all of them,” he said. “And they’re being replaced by supermarkets that get mass-produced products.”
Calls to Superfresh’s central office were not returned.
Maltese said he often patronized the bakery to bring his 81-year-old mother-in-law her favorite treat, the mini Danishes.
“Whenever she was not feeling well or anything I always came to Eiselen’s to get her a treat,” he said. “It’s a shame this is going away because of a lease.”
Maltese added: “this [store] is going to be dark for years. Nobody is going to take it over.”
Libby Choplin, an employee of Mr. P Pizza and Pasta a few doors down, said she’s shocked that the store closed, given its popularity and long-running history with the community.
“They’ve been here as long as I can remember,” she said. “That’s where everyone goes for cupcakes.”
In a large, blue written note left to customers on the shop’s window, the Eiselen family penned a thank you note to customers and assured them that the shop will be searching for a new location.