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Saturday, February 15, 1997
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald

Goodbye to bakery
Shenandoah loses 82-year-old outlet
By James Quirk Jr.

SHENANDOAH -- Harris Bakery Inc., which sent the aroma of baking dough into borough streets for 82 years, closed its doors for good at noon today. According to Gerald J. Alshefskie Jr., the owners' son, costs kept rising and revenues did not. "Basically, we have to shut it down based on financial reasons -- expenses, taxes, etc. The bigger bakeries drive the small people out of business," Alshefskie said. A fire in 1994, however, was the beginning of the end, he said.

"It seemed like we could never keep it going as well since that fire. Instead of getting dragged down into debt, we had to get out while we could," he said. The fire heavily damaged the second floor, and the cost of repairs prevented the bakery from upgrading, in particular buying equipment that would have allowed the mass production of doughnuts, he said. "The idea of closing down has been brewing for a while, now, and it culminated this week. We wanted to wait until after 'Donut Day,'" Alshefskie said. Fasnacht Day came Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Alshefskie's father, Gerald J. Sr., bought the bakery from Emanuel "Mendal" Harris in 1988, but suffered a stroke last year and was no longer able to run the business himself. "I'm upset about it, and it's taking its toll," Alshefskie Sr. said Friday.

His daughter-in-law, Barbara G. Alshefskie, and her husband, Joseph G., have been helping keep the business going for the past year. "The bakery business isn't like it used to be. People can now pick up all of their bakery products at most of the supermarkets instead of having to go to Harris," she said. "I'm very upset that it's closing down. The customers are upset, too. Just today a gentleman commented that he won't be able to get apple dumplings like we make anymore," she said. The remaining employees will now be out of a job.

"The employees are really great people, and they gave their all down there. We feel as terrible as they do. The people in Shenandoah were great, and we'll miss them," he said. Former owner Harris commented that it's a great loss, especially because it's been around for 82 years. "It's been going since 1915, and it wasn't the same since the fire," Alshefskie Sr. said. One of the bakery's most popular products, according to Alshefskie Jr., was the "pretzel doughnut." "We were the only place to ever come out with pretzel doughnuts, as far as mass producing them, and are employees hand-made everything," he said. Other products included pies, breads, turnovers, sticky buns, and for Easter and Christmas, poppy seed bread, he said.

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