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Jul 18, 2010 11:35 AM

R. I. P. Neldam's Bakery - July 17, 2010

After 80 years, Neldam's Bakery is closed.

Happened to stop by yesterday to pick up some Butterscotch Tidbits, a favorite of mine, and there was a small sign announcing that Saturday was its last day. A small but steady group of customers came in while I was there, some picking-up birthday sheetcakes, and others just to say goodbye. A KTVU cameraman was filming some comments by long-term customers.

The end of a era...

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  1. Yep, my friend Susan waited in line to get the very LAST dream cream cake for her 62nd birthday today. Very sad.

    1. Wow! Their challah was good. Sad to see it go, but the bakery competition in the east bay is rough.

      1 Reply
      1. re: majordanby

        Here's something from their website ...... who knows if it's up to date or not?

        "With the assistance of several cities including Oakland, Alameda, Emeryville, Pinole, and we hope soon Antioch, we will be opening a new, more modern, and greener bakery, along with 4 branches. We are trying to have all the locations open by mid summer 2010. The assistance these cities are offering is key to the future of Neldam’s bakery, and we hope you let them know that it is appreciated by you, our loyal customers. As our plans become more firm, we will up date this site with more specific details."

      2. That bums me out - their snowflake rolls were a part of many celebrations in my family for years.

        14 Replies
        1. re: myriamg

          I just don't understand why the City of Oakland bailed out the Merritt Bakery and not Neldam's....Am I missing something?

          Merritt Bakery
          203 E 18th St, Oakland, CA 94606

          1. re: Eli

            I believe the City did 2-3 rounds with Neldams but don't hold me to that.

            Any way, I was driving by on Thursday and it looked closed already. This got me thinking...they have good products but some of it is outdated and they produce too many small items, like many different kinds of cookies and dinner rolls. I know, that's the point however that has to be difficult on the business.

            I hope they figure things out in the new place and streamline their selection...OR get stuff like their dinner rolls in local grocery stores to generate revenues.

            1. re: ML8000

              Yes, this is following at least a couple rounds of city assistance, and as I understand it, the underlying problems with matching revenues to costs had not been corrected, so there were concerns that continuing with band-aids wouldn't help viability in the long run. The major issue seems to be that they sold the building several years ago, and the new owners are asking a much higher rent for the space than what it cost before (and, in fairness, are undoubtedly carrying a much higher loan on the property, too). Last I heard they were many months in arrears for rent, which I'm sure hasn't helped the relationship with the new owners, either. Still, very sad... :(

              1. re: ML8000

                Um, the reason I went to Neldham's was primarily for the many small items, cookies and dinner rolls.

                Robert provided a link to previous discussions. They made some bad business decisions which they never recovered from. Whoever is at the helm, seems unable to make the correct decisions to this day. It had little to do with their product. Lots of old time bakeries like Shuberts continute to thrive. Not everything has to be aritsan frou-frout stuff.

                I do hope that the link about them possibly opening elsewhere is true though. I hope someone who stops by for a last baked good asks about it.

                1. re: rworange

                  Hey if they couldn't get things righted after 2-3 ties then re-accessing their complete business model seems reasonable. If they can continue to bake all those different types of good, great but I think they need to widen their audience or slim down their selections...or something. You know, get those dinner rolls in Andronico's and other local places. That's all I'm saying. BTW, I'm not a frou-frou baked good fan and Bakesale Betty attests to that.

                  Bakesale Betty
                  5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Not arguing that their business model sucks ... or something does there business-wise. I also agree that they need to widen their audiance as Greelea did with their cinamon bread.

                    Still, there are too many bakeries that sold the same type of items as Neldham's ... some like Ladybug which has a much worse location ... and managed to keep their doors open. Virginia Bakery has an almost identical product line and is prospering.

                    A lot of these joints, do catering to businesses so that gets them extra revenue.

                    If Neldham's did focus on widening their audience for some of their unique items ... which actually include the butter cookies ... they could make it. Someone is just making really, really bad decisions. Neldham's didn't need to be where it is today.

                    Eh, you just hit my hot spot. I love the butter cookies ... though the stuff like the regular cookies and ... oddly ... Danish ... could be eliminated. I love the little petit fours ... yeah, they weren't amazing, but they were festive and good.

                    I will really, really ... really ... miss the pound cake. AFAIK, no one else is doing that iin the Bay Area. It is one of the unsung items that was sold that didn't get a lot of attention, even on Chowhound.

                    So streamlining might not be the way to go with these types of joints. It is the variety that brings people in. Everyone has their favorites.

                    Maybe frou-frout isn't the correct word ... bakeries catering to contemporary tastes ... and Bakesale Betty falls in that class. They are not old-style bakeries. Sweet Adeline is an old-style bakery that has managed to have a wider audiance because it has adjusted to a larger audiance. The quality is better, but the selection is about the same.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Having recently looked into purchasing a bakery and writing a business plan for one, there are really just a few ways for bakeries to pay for all the real estate they occupy, the high utilities costs, and increasing cost of ingredients. They either need significant corporate dining facility orders and/or catering orders, or they need a thriving wedding and special occasion cake business, or they can add lunch items such as sandwiches and soups to their menus. Absent those strategies it's pretty hard to be profitable, no matter how great your rolls and pound cakes might be and how loyal your customers are. :( It's sad to see these old school places we always thought we could count on fade away for whatever reason.

                      1. re: heart2bake

                        Neldams to re-open as employee Co-op bakery !

                        Drove by today and saw a sign in window.

                        It will be Danish style bakery.

                        1. re: Mission

                          At the same location? I thought the landlord wasl all hot to trot to turn it into a Korean market

                          1. re: rworange

                            Thats not what the sign in the window of the same old location says.

                            I think its going to be called "New Danish Bakery"

                            Or something like that?

                            1. re: Mission

                              A Taste of Denmark

                              Danish pastries w/ a few Korean bakery items (in today's Chronicle)

                              1. re: kc72

                                Here's a link to the SF Gate's Oakland blog confirming "Taste of Denmark" bakery, a co-op with former Neldam's employees:


                                1. re: ML8000

                                  "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"
                                  Mark Twain

          2. We went last Saturday and it is cleaned up, with less weird crap around. We got the snowflake rolls and the other really good rolls and a caramel apple pie. All was exactly the same, delicious!

            1. Stopped by Taste of Denmanrk (employee-owned co-op successor to Neldam's) Friday, 9/10/10. . . snagged turnovers @ $1.95 each (apricot and apple were available) to take to a Fresno gathering. . . they were a huge success for very not much of an investment.