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Leons Bakery gone?

  • j

Is it true? One of the remaining food icons of my childhood, gone!?? Was going to recommend it in the 7-layer cake thread; went to look up the address and found a blog entry that it was being shut down. Tried the phone # and its disconnected.

Now where will I go for babka and rugelach and yes, 7-layer cake on the way home from the beach?

Actually that's a serious question. What remaining Jewish, but not strictly orthodox (i.e., open on Saturdays) bakeries remain for my babka, seeded Rye, and challah fix?

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  1. Sad, but true, Leon's closed. The best alternative seems to be various bakeries in Little Odessa/Brighton Beach. Everyone has a personal fav. I myself like Bay Gourmet for rugelach and babka (Ave. Z/E.17th), for challah and a really good rye go to Ostrovitsky Bakery on Ave. J and I think it's East 14th street. The challah with raisins is sooooo good. It's worth the effort to fight the traffic and find parking (and DiFara's is only a few blocks away)!

    1. Getting very very tight in the old-fashioned bakery department...and what about the famous Teena's Cake Fair in Canarsie - is that also toast?

      Jeez, there used to be a babka, challah, rugelach, prune danish bakery everywhere. Used to love "N.E.Tell's" on Church Ave. & East 3rd Street and "Honey & Spice" on Clinton & Grand (Lower East Side) - fattening.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Mike R.

        Teena's is still around and kicking, great selection, good prices and helpful staff

        Tasty too


        1. re: Moley

          wow, Teena's Cake Fair! A flash from my youth, I had totally forgotten about that one. In fact I grew up right near there in Flatland's and that was one of our usual local bakeries. That, and but our main one was the one that was on Flatbush right off of Flatlands, whose name escapes me now. (Its gonna drive me crazy till I remember....they had the best Charlotte Russe, my childhood fave of course.)

          I will definitely check Teenas out, thanks for the reminder! Unfortunately its not nearly as convenient though as Leons was.

          1. re: jinx

            Holy Moly!!!!!!!!!!!! I was looking for pictures of a Black Forest Cake....one thing led to another and I wound up on this sight. Leon's Bakerey Closing...of which I knew about =[
            -My father worked at all of these Bakeries!!!!!!!!! Leon's, Tina's; and then you'll started talking about Lord's!!!!!!!!!!! and Sterns,...and then at the end of the posts.,..Ebingers!!!!
            WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm all teary eyed.. The memories I have of all these absolutely wonderful bakeries, and the breads and pastries they made. My childhood consisted of a few bags and boxes filled with surprises, on our kitchen table, as we woke to go off to school every other day of my childhood. WOW!!! And sadly the standards today SUCK! the quality is not the same, probably never ever will be...no one uses fresh ingredients anymore, and mostly the workers dont even know what youre asking for, even though they work there, so sad. Rainbow cookies, cheese pockets, rye bread, kaiser rolls, honey bread..............this lists are endless.. I later met the owners, in 2003-2004; who took over the bakery Leon;s fromr the 1st owners, mother and daughter in law shopoping in my store in FL., and they had also just sold it the year before. Small world. Glad to hear Tina's is still open, I have to do some quality conrol on my next visti. We'll see! Thanks for the memories.....godsgirl.

      2. RATS!... Now Leon's is gone as well????
        I agree... Bad, bad, news. Although I didn't get there very often, it was always a treat to be in the neighborhood and have an excuse to stop by for their pumpernickel raison bread and those yummy cookies. The store had changed hands a while ago and it was just not the same, but as part of a disappearing breed of wonderful bakeries, it will be missed.
        Will everyone kindly keep the rest of us informed if they come across any new bakery 'discoveries' making killer old world breads and ruggelach?

        1. Teena's Cake Fair is great. Don't forget about Lord's at the Junction (Flatbush and Nostrand); their rugelach -- to my taste -- has always been identical to Leon's. These bakeries are evaporating as fact as dairy/appetizer shops and kosher delis. I can get lox and whitefish at Fairways (amazing whitefish salad) and pastrami at Artie's, but for rugelach I'm testing recipes and "rolling my own".

          6 Replies
          1. re: filmoremike

            Wow! Talk about fond memories. The best rugelach I can remember were found at Stern's Bakery on ( I think) Ave "J" and Coney Island Ave. I've yet to find their equal...... They were perfect. :-}

            1. re: Tay

              Stern's Bakery on "J" & E12th, I believe, made such heavenly rugelach, buttery, buttery, buttery.

              1. re: Rmis32

                Funny... When I think of Stern's rugelach, I think cream cheese, cream cheese and more cream cheese. .:-)

              2. re: Tay

                Anyone have fond memories of Garden Bakery, on Ave P, betw E3-E4th. Long gone, but those Charlotte Russes will live in my heart forever.

                1. re: Rmis32

                  I recall those amazingly good pastries but I think my Dad used to get them at Lord's or a Bakery called Perry's . Made with, (gasp!) real whipped cream. Beyond delicious. :-)

                  1. re: Tay

                    How about Motel's, used to be in Bensonhurst on 65th street near Bay Parkway, they had great challah, and they made these cinnamon twists that were delish! And the big marble cookies, cheese danish god I can go on and on, YUM:)

            2. You can try The Cake Center on Ave. P around E 3rd.
              They've been there 50 years and are a very traditional
              Jewish bakery - they even have old fashioned Corn Bread.

              19 Replies
              1. re: mike in brooklyn

                I'm shocked (In a good way!) that the Cake Center is still in business. My Dad used to get delicious baked goods there, including the Jewish style corn bread. When I've been in B'klyn I've always meant to stop in but the lack of parking there has always put me off and Leon's was easier parkingwise. Now tthat Leon's is no more, the desire to locate great, traditional Rugelach may be the deciding factor. Thanks so much for the posting! :-}

                1. re: Tay

                  Glad this was revived! I am still missing Leon's. I'll have to check out the Cake Center. Still trying to remember the name of the place on Flatbush off Flatlands where we got the great Charlotte Russe in my childhood. But maybe it wasn't a Jewish bakery after all, that's possible.

                  1. re: jinx

                    Was the bakery on Flatbush off Flatlands called Ebbingers? (Maybe they were closer to Flatbush & N) They had great new Years cookies. I think that there was another bakery on the other side of Flatbush off Kings Highway. Don't recall its name though. Wow, childhood memories from Marine Park....Frank's Pizza, before it got so "fancy' & there actually was a Frank & his son Dino. The butcher with the sawdust on the floor...Henry's German Deli for great salads & cold cuts.

                    1. re: GlendaleGal

                      Ebingers has been gone for years - they had a central bakery and
                      many 'drop' stores which the central bakery delivered to.
                      They were phenomenal - chocolate blackout cake was a favorite.
                      They attempted a comeback some 10-15 years ago using
                      Entenmans as a model - delivering to groceries - it failed.
                      The original bakery was on Church & Bedford - here is alink to a photo of it.

                      1. re: GlendaleGal

                        Wow, Ebbingers, we used to go to one in Sheepshead Bay. Love the othellos, those chocolate cover, chocolate filled eggs. And I've never had a better blackout cake.

                        1. re: BonnieB.

                          "the othellos, those chocolate cover, chocolate filled eggs. And I've never had a better blackout cake"
                          You have excellent taste (Literally!). Nowadays, no one even knows what an Cthello is. As for their Blackout and Buttercream Cakes... I agree: None better.

                        2. re: GlendaleGal

                          Flatbush and flatlands, could that have been the Butter Bun? I remember my mother bringing back really good rugalach and much more.

                        3. re: jinx

                          Lord's bakery was by the Junction. My fave is where Ostrovsky's is (RATCHICK'S ROCKS!). Best eyeglasses, rugluch and unseeded rye. My mother had a thing for their bowties! (I'd kill me now...all that frosted sugar on the outside would send my Glucose up to 520!)

                          1. re: jinx

                            That bakery was my favorite as well.Too bad i can't remember the name. My folks, god bless-em, have pulled a blank too. I always talk about those incredible charlotte russes, with the cherry on top in the paper sleeves.mmmmmmm.
                            P.S. New China Inn, Chow-Chow Cup, and M&N Pizza still haunt me.

                            1. re: thesteiner

                              oh yeah, we must have been in the same 'hood. New China Inn was our special going out for Chinese (when we didn't trek to Chinatown.) Altho Chow-chow cup doesn't ring a bell. And we got pizzas from M&N for my birthday parties! Anyway, still blanking on the bakery. I don't think it was Butter Bun--I think that was on Ave. N.

                              1. re: jinx

                                The chow chow cup, oh how I miss that truck that would come, my mother loved it, sadly like nathan's chow mein its but a memory

                                1. re: alsmith

                                  Wow. I've never known anyone else that remembered Chow Chow Cup. I grew up on Ave. U in the E. 50s. In the early 60s it was the end of the world and the nearest Chinese Restaurant was New China Inn. Chow Chow Cup was the only opportunity, except for very special occasions, we had to get chow mein (in a fried noodle bowl) and egg rolls brought to our street in a truck just like the ice cream man did.

                                  1. re: filmoremike

                                    I grew up on Ave U and E 73 St. Now that was the end of the world. I remember Chow Chow Cup and when the first Chinese restaurant in the area opened (New China Inn) near the Brook and Marine theaters. People were waiting for hours to get a table. Even the take out orders took forever. How about the Chicken Delight truck!!!

                                    1. re: Motosport

                                      You got me. East 73rd was the end of the world. I used to ride my bike out there. No Georgetown; just hundreds of acres of vacant lot. I remember the three horse stable that were there before the big church was built at Veterans Avenue. Later was the Golden Oxe and Georgio's Pizza. There was a Chicken Delight, I think, on Avenue N near Avey's.

                                      1. re: filmoremike

                                        There was actually a Chicken Delight truck that worked the neighborhood like the Bungalow Bar ice cream truck. When I was a kid there was no AVE T @ E. 73 St which was a dead end. No Georgetown, no Roy H Mann JHS, no St Bernards RC church @ T and Veterans Ave. When the area became more developed with Mill Basin, etc.. The RC diocese created the St Bernard parish. They held services in a tent for several years until they built the school, convent and church. Great memories!!
                                        Lords bakery is still in business @ "The junction" Flatbush Ave & Nostrand.

                                        Lords Bakery
                                        2135 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210

                          2. re: Tay

                            Hi Tay - I grew up in that neighborhood - walked to the Cake Center.

                            1. re: mike in brooklyn

                              Mike... Lucky you to be so close to all that great cake! We used to get kosher style deli sandwiches at a place nearby on 65th and Bay Pkwy. I also recall Ebinger's outrageous Blackout Cake and their incredibly rich buttercream birthday cakes.
                              I don't know if it's fact or urban legend but someone told me that Entenman (sp?)was originally a Baker for Ebinger's and that he either bought ther business or their recipies and began supplying Supermarkets with baked goods. Don't know if it's true but their cakes are certainly nothing like the originals. Alas, it's really a challenge to find quality bakeries now.

                              1. re: Tay

                                Don't remember the name of the bakery that was at Flatbush & Flatlands - just that it was there, moved from Flatbush to Canarsie when I was six.
                                But I do want to let all know that Tinas Cake Fair is still going strong on Ralph Ave., between Farragut and Foster Avenues. Was just there tonight. Still run by the same family, Aaron still keeps his hand in all the baking. Without question there are no competitors within a half hour ride of my Canarsie location that are worth mentioning in the same sentence.
                                Like everyone says, everyone has their own favorites. I have to mention their Scotch Brownie and Munn (poppyseed) Roll. Great breads and onion rolls too.

                                1. re: grey lens

                                  OK, why hasn't anyone mentioned Ebbingers' Huckleberry Crumb Cake"? Absolutely divine. And M&N Pizza - I used to get beat up there. And we didn't go to New China Inn, we went to Honam's on the opposite corner of Flatbush Avenue. Nice to find this stuff still under discussion.

                        4. My cousin's family owned it for years. They made my sweet 16 cake. Passovers haven't been the same without Top Hats.

                          1. Leons is gone and so is GAILS on Cropsey Ave and 20th in Bensonhurst.The owner of GAILS was a good friend of Leons and Teenas and Poppy's

                            Gails had the best cheesecake

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: BMR

                              Was just at Teena's and sad to say the quality just isn't there anymore, the Challah and bhapka where dry, no cherry's in the bhapka, and hard as a brick, the baked goods of are childhood are now only memories,

                            2. I used to work at Stern's bakery on Avenue J and Leon's bakery on Knapp street when I was in Brooklyn college. I remember lines out the door on holidays. Stern's was owned by a Russian couple, they were excellent owners and great employers. They purchased Leon's as well and for some time they had both, however sold Stern's after some time. That's how Stern's disappeared off the Brooklyn map after a while. I did not see much business going on there passing by to and from school. Rugelach was one of the best ever amongst other things. I worked at Leon's for some time too, and I remember out of everything Brown Derby cake-devil's food cake with strawberries and banana filling and whipped cream. I have not been able to find anything like it ever again. Russian couple retired to Florida and for whatever reason their son, who was a baker himself and went to baking school, did not take it over. It was sold and after that quickly gone under, did not help that bank decided to have a brach there and construction screwed up the visibility of the place. I miss Brown Derby. Been trying to find a recipe on line to no avail.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: VampireXMistress

                                Stern's rugelach were the best EVER! I have never found their equal.. If you find any even close, please post. Leon's assorted cookies and breads were tops.
                                Brown Derby cake was also sold at Perry's Bakery. I can't recall the name but the little Bakery on Ave P and about East 3rd St might make them but I'm not sure.
                                Producing really fine baked goods is a dying art.

                                1. re: Tay


                                  I'm replying to this with some trepidation, as more then once, trumpeting a treasured favorite has led me, given my personal limits of acceptability in respect to: crowds... and the inevitable dilution, to varying degree, of greatness, to have to back-away with a dirge in my head. As example > after 30 years reveling at and with Dom(s), feasting on not only obviously outstanding pie, but braised rabbit, baked swordfish, ethereal pasta dishes, heros and salads, ultimate soups...; I haven't been able to, chosen not to; visit Dom, Jr., Margaret, Michael... to feast (I do stop by to wish all well from time to time). One of the beauties of Dom's has always been it's democracy < rightly so. Everybody waits! Although I have thought about developing a system which delineates between those who truly will appreciate... beyond the great masses who believe they should... after reading a review in NY Mag., as example. But how? In my mind, not; is it right / correct; but how!

                                  The above said: It's the Christmas... season > so, with malice towards none...

                                  ...Spectacular soulful rugelach can be found at > Margaret Palca Bakes: 191 Columbia St.

                                  In addition Margaret is a doll.


                                  Margaret Palca Bakes
                                  191 Columbia St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                                2. re: VampireXMistress

                                  Leon's Bakery had a bundt cake - if I remember right it was a yellow cake inside, maybe with a pistachio or mild anise flavor, and a smooth chocolate icing. It was my father's favorite growing up in Brooklyn, and even after moving out West he would pick one up and carry it home on the plane every visit. Was very sad last I was in town not to find Leon's to buy one for him. Does anyone have an approximation of the recipe for that cake, or know of another bakery (in New York or San Francisco) that makes such a thing?

                                3. I miss Leon's so much it is so hard to find another good Jewish bakery the best I know is Lord's still on Nostrand avenue in Brooklyn. Not the variety of cakes that they used to have but still decent. Just wish that Lords would open a second store where Leon's was the store now stands empty with other below par bakeries opening for a short time and closing. Wish someone had Leon's receipes...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Hydrin

                                    Leon's was the best. Got my Communion Cake there in 1960. Whenever I was in Brooklyn I would stop by Leon's to pick up 2 chocolate layer cakes with hard iceing. My kids still talk about them. I wish someone had the recipie or a bakery opened in that spot by someone who had the recipies.

                                    1. re: genel

                                      Sorry to inform all of the Leon's Pastry Shop fans that the recipes are in heaven with my dad, Willie .

                                      1. re: Sunshine34

                                        So sorry to hear about your dad and that the recipes could be gone forever. Our family was together last night for a Bat Mitzvah and all the children and grand children were talking about the wonderful chocolate layer cake we remember and enjoyed through our childhoods. Always sat in our kitchen with a fork ready for a quick bite. One cousin would like to recreate it. Then there were the cookies with a dollop of chocolate and a colored center. He would always include extras along with the wonderful rainbow cookies. Brings back such great memories.

                                  2. Any bakeries which have that Leon's quality for the Chocolate Babka.... I sure would like to know of it. That chocolate was excellent. I will check back here for responses.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: BKLYNGIRLRD

                                      Ostrovitsky Bakery on Avenue J and E. 12th street comes close...maybe even better chocolate babka than Leon's. They also make another pastry which is something like a cross between a babka and a flaky chocolatey croissant--has powdered sugar on top--I don't know what its called but its fantastic.

                                      Ostrovitsky Bakery
                                      1124 Ave J, Brooklyn, NY 11230

                                      1. re: jinx

                                        I spotted classically made babkas right up front at Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King - of course, that's in Manhattan (W. 86th St. & Amsterdam Ave,)...$12 bucks a loaf.

                                    2. Found a cookbook by a woman who grew up eating Leon Bakery's wonderful cakes. The cookbook has the recipes for Leon's rainbow cookies, black forest cake along with her version of ebingers blackout cake, A&S cheesecake, Black and white cookies. The cookbook is called Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard. I have not tried them yet, wish there were recipes for Leon's bread and rolls. I also remember Leon's baking some type of cake , just filled with a poppy seed filling, just so good!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Hydrin

                                        The recipes from this book are Sherry's interpretations of her favorite pastries from childhood. I too, purchased her book after hearing about it. It was wonderful reading of her special Leon's memories and seeing the picture of her with my dad's famous merry-go-round birthday cake as a child.

                                        1. re: Sunshine34

                                          I know I posed the question a while back, but I thought I would try just one more time. My dad is retiring next week and I would love to try to bake a cake that approximates the one from Leon's that he loved so much. Problem is I'm not even really sure what flavor it was. If anyone can fill in my description, I would truly appreciate it.

                                          What I know for sure is it was a bundt cake with a smooth, slightly hardened chocolate icing on the outside. I think of the inside as being relatively dense or moist - yellow, perhaps pistachio or anise. Does anyone remember this cake? Anyone tried devising a recipe for it you could share? Or even confirmation that it was pistachio?

                                          Thanks so much!

                                          1. re: lcm1

                                            That cake was a marble ring. It had moist marble cake inside and was covered with soft chocolate icing.

                                      2. It is a shame Leon's old store is standing empty. Too bad Lord's wouldn't open up another bakery at that location. What business they would do!

                                        1. I grew up in Mill Basin and Leons was the tha bakery. Cigar cookies, pumpernickle, rye. And yes, if we did not go to King Wu on Pell and Doyer, we went to the New China Inn. Glad they closed South Shore - what a hell hole. Silver Gull Beach Club, is it still there. The Mill Basin Yacht Club, is long gone for luxury Condos. El Carribe is no longer a cabana club I bet, but is it still a catering place. My cousin's Bar Mitzvah was held there after a religious ceremony at Temple Shalom. Is Waldbaums A&P replacement renovated. The card and candy store in the Waldbaums shopping center must be gone. I hope Giorgio's is gone. Sid and whatever in Georgetowne is long gone. Jade Inn gone. I live in Bergen Co. and only go back to Mill Basin for Shiva calls. No Leon's mandelbrot and no Ebinger's Black out Cake - Oh the humanity.

                                          1. I remember Leon's bakery cookies.... Especially the ones with the big chocolate drop on top.... I loved them so much that my grandfather would carefully stack them in a coffee can and ship them to me in college. I have been trying to recreate the cookie at home. Does anyone have the original recipe????? Would love to recreate my family's memories....

                                            Also....is it true that a baker from Leon's (Ernie) is working at Waldbaum's on Ralph Ave and Ave L in Georgetown? (This was a 2012 rumor...)