Gerda’s German Restaurant and Bakery, a mainstay at 52nd and Leavenworth, is closing later this month, the owners announced Sunday on Facebook.
The closing comes a year after the death of Gerda Bailey, the namesake and longtime owner of the business.
“This was not an easy decision for any of us,” Bailey’s daughter, Kim Reefe, said Monday. “I grew up in the bakery. A lot of the staff has been there for a long time. Their kids have grown up in the bakery. We understand the significance of closing.”
The restaurant’s last day will be June 22.
Gerda, who died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at age 83, had hoped to find a buyer for the business. So had her family, Reefe said.
Reefe said that since her mother died, the family learned that the restaurant, which has been in its current location for more than 40 years, had been grandfathered in on a number of things that, if a new buyer took over, would have to be brought up to code. They decided to keep running the bakery, and did, just as it had been.
“We were able to keep the employees and keep the bakery open,” she said.
The bakery is beloved for its doughnuts, glazed twists, pecan rolls and wedding cakes, plus such German fare as sauerbraten and schnitzel.
At the end of February, the family had to move the liquor license out of Gerda Bailey’s name, and that required inspections from the Health and Fire Departments.
The family started to put price tags on what needed to be improved and realized that some expensive equipment also needed to be replaced.
“It was a culmination of everything,” Reefe said. “My mom ran the place with her heart, and she took a very tiny salary. We paid everyone, and paid our bills, and that’s how we continued to operate. We didn’t have a lot of money to work with.”
She said the family tried to come up with other ideas to support the bakery.
“It just didn’t turn out for us,” she said. “We are thankful that we had another year.”
Barry James of Sweetbriar Syndicate owns the property. Reefe said Sweetbriar has plans for the building, but he didn’t elaborate on what might happen.
Over the years, Gerda’s Oktoberfest celebrations, which started with a grill and four tables outside the restaurant 20 years ago, became standing-room-only affairs.
Reefe said the family would love to play host to one more event.
“If at all possible, we would love to do it,” she said. “We would do one last Oktoberfest for the community.”
Gerda’s is at 5180 Leavenworth St. Its hours until it closes will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/Gerdas-German-Restaurant-and-Bakery-210629088998700.
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