When he was 6, Max Cohn’s mother made him an apron, the better for him to fit in while helping out at the family bakery.
Fifty-two years and who knows how much kosher deliciousness later, Cohn and his sister, Leah, are getting out of the baking business. Come next week, Goldman’s Kosher Bakery will be a Baltimore tradition no more.
“It’s bittersweet,” says Cohn, 58. “There are a lot of things we will miss about the bakery. For one thing, we’ll have to find another place to buy stuff. But it’s time.”
Both Cohns insist that Goldman’s is doing good business, and that their decision to close has nothing to do with economics. Instead, they say they simply want to do other things — things that don’t require a 24-hour-a-day commitment.
“It’s so exhausting,” says Leah Cohn, 60. “I just want to relax. I want to read a book. I want to take a shower without taking a phone call. I just need some quiet time.”
Goldman’s bakery, at 6848 Reisterstown Road, will be closing as of Sunday. A second location, called Pastries Plus and located at Pikesville’s Seven Mile Market, will be closing on Jan. 5. Remaining inventory will be sold at reduced prices until both locations close.
“This was not a spur-of-the-minute decision,” says Max Cohn. “I did not want to wait [to retire] until I was 70 or 80 and could not do the things I wanted to do.”
Although she was not prepared to reveal the name, Leah Cohn said the Reisterstown Road location has been sold to a local wholesale bakery and is expected to reopen soon. Baltimore-based Rosendorff’s bakery will be taking over the Seven Mile Market location and hopes to have it open on Jan. 7 or shortly thereafter, said Rosendorff’s Vice President Baruch Rosendorff.
“It’s been a very graceful transition,” said Rosendorff, whose family bakery has been selling its breads in area stores for about 20 years. Although the Cohns will be retaining the rights to their bakery’s name and most of their recipes, Rosendorff promised returning customers will find a lot of the same breads they’ve come to expect at Goldman’s, “plus a lot of new items they haven’t seen yet.”
Goldman’s closing comes on the heels of the end of a longtime Pikesville eatery. Last week, the Suburban House restaurant, an area fixture since the mid-1960s, closed for undisclosed reasons. The restaurant had moved to its present location, in the Pomona Square shopping center on Reisterstown Road, after a 2009 fire destroyed its previous location, less than a mile south on the same road.
Max Cohn said Goldman’s was healthy enough financially to keep going, but he acknowledged that having two longtime businesses close within such a brief period could be hard on the Jewish community both have served for so long.
“Times are changing,” he said.
Nonetheless, Goldman’s will be missed. “They have been part of our family celebrations for years,” said Leslie Silverberg, a pharmacist at the nearby Giant food store, who said she was happy the Cohns would be able to slow down their pace a bit, but will regret having to go elsewhere for her breads and pastries. Food from the bakery, she said, “could always be counted on to be beautiful and delicious.”
The Cohns have been in the bakery business since 1965, when German immigrants Fred and Inge Cohn bought a bakery on Rogers Avenue; they kept its name, Goldman’s, which had been a local fixture since the 1950s. In 1973, they moved to the bakery’s present location on Reisterstown Road.
“We were always in the bakery -- there was always something to do there,” says Max Cohn. Agrees Leah Cohn, “As kids, we were always in the bakery. I was 10 years old, and my mother would wake me up early Sunday morning. I was 10 years old, waiting on customers.”
Leah Cohn did, in fact, have a life outside the bakery for a time, spending 11 years as a microbiologist at St. Agnes Hospital. But by 1989, she says, she was back at the bakery full-time.
“Whenever I was here, I was still working at the bakery,” she says. “If you were going to be in the Cohn family, that’s it.”
Even her parents realized how all-encompassing the bakery could be, and wanted their children to enjoy a life outside it, Leah Cohn says. “My mother passed in 2008, and she really wanted us to finish then,” she says. “But we hammered on until now.”
Fred Cohn died in 2006.
The past few weeks have been hard, both Cohns admit. Customers have been coming in, some in tears, and leaving with as much bread and other baked goods as they can carry.
“I knew it would be a little bit hard, but I had no idea,” says Max Cohn. “We’ve had people calling from Florida, ‘How can you do this?’ ‘Can you sell me this recipe,’ ‘Can you sell me that recipe?’ It’s been very humbling.”