‘My heart’s breaking’: Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

It was just time.

That was pretty much the only explanation Cliff Weatherby could offer as to why he left a 10-year job he loved at New Model Bakery more than a half-century ago.

It’s also why, three decades later, owner Ted Budzowski would shutter a business still fondly remembered by its former customers.

The 101 W. Long Ave. bakery closed about 20 years ago, and over the last couple of weeks, the machines, equipment, pans and other items that Budzowski, Weatherby and so many others once used to create and sell their wares were sold through an online auction. The one-time boss and his ex-employee returned to the building Wednesday for a last look around before it was all gone.

A tour of the former New Model bakery with Cliff Weatherby, who worked at the South Side business for about 10 years starting in 1958.

“My heart’s breaking,” said Weatherby, 78, who worked at New Model from about 1958 to 1968. “I wish it was still running, still in business. We made good bread, he (Budzowski) made beautiful cakes, wedding cakes. It was a nice place to work. I enjoyed it, and I wish it was still here.”

He was at a loss to say why he ultimately decided to leave a job he had loved so much.

“I got married, I don’t know; no special reason,” he said, noting that he went on to work 25 years for Babcock & Wilcox. “It was a long time ago.”

Budzowski’s reason for closing the bakery that had been in his family since 1914 was similarly succinct.

“I came to work the one day, first part of the week, and I told my wife, ‘This is it. I’m done,’” the 95-year-old said. “Saturday, we’re closing it up, I don’t care who knows it or not.

“Saturday came, I closed the door. I’d had enough already.”

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby demonstrates the workings of a New Model Bakery machine once used to insert cream into doughnuts and lady locks.

DAN IRWIN | NEWS

Both Budzowski and Weatherby started at New Model as teenagers, helping to clean up the place. Each one recalled years of reporting for work at 4 a.m.

“I had to work,” Budzowski said. “My dad made me work, so I worked all my life. I started here about 13 years old, cleaning up. It helped us to get along.”

Weatherby noted he would work every day, except for Mondays, when the bakery was closed.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby shows the shelves on which pans of bread dough were placed prior to going into the New Model Bakery steam box, where they were put to rise.

DAN IRWIN | NEWS

RYE RAVES

Ask former customers about their New Model favorites, and be prepared for dozens of different answers, including cakes, doughnuts, cupcakes, lady locks and breads.

One product that seems to have been extremely beloved, though, was the bakery’s rye bread.

Among nearly 400 Facebook comments about New Model, Jim Villani wrote “My uncle used to drive up from Pittsburgh every month or so and buy a dozen loaves of rye bread. He said he froze them. I’m not sure if many survived the trip back to Pittsburgh.” Zig Wajler, a Nashville, Tennessee, resident, said that “I’ve been fortunate to travel throughout the US in my career. And hands down, no other bakery I’ve visited could compare with Model’s Rye bread! The best!!!”

Story continues below video

What made it so good?

“Because I baked it,” Weatherby laughed.

Budzowski’s reason seems more “Field of Dreams”-ish; as long as someone baked it, they would come.

“Nobody wants to make it,” he said. “It’s too much trouble.”

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

A mixture of labels and Christmas tree lights sit on a table inside the former New Model Bakery, awaiting sale at auction.

DAN IRWIN | NEWS

HOLDING ON

Auctioneer Rod Loomis of West Middlesex-based Loomis Group Engineers said all of the New Model equipment that had gone on the auction block still ran when plugged in, even after sitting for 20 years.

Budzowski couldn’t say why he’d waited so long to divest himself of it all. He was sure, though, that it wasn’t because he’d entertained dreams of coming back.

“Not me, oh no,” he said. “We had a couple people come in and wanted to buy it, and they all reneged on it over the years. Who knows why I kept it? I don’t know.”

Another thing he’s held on to are all of his family recipes. Though many Facebook respondents mentioned they’d love to get specific New Model recipes — or even all of them — Budzowski said no one has ever asked him for any.

Loomis, though, said earlier that “We’ve had a hundred calls, people looking for recipes and saying, ‘hey, we worked there.’ It does have some interest.”

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowksi, the last owner of a bakery that was in his family since 1914, revisits the store amid an online auction of its assets and discovers bags that were used to send bread home with customers.

DAN IRWIN | NEWS

On Facebook, MaryEllen Herr wrote “…if you come across it, please send me their chocolate cake recipe so I can make it for my son-in-law. They had it at their wedding and he never got more than a bite and has been wanting it ever since!!”

Even Weatherby, who was surrounded by the baked goods each day for 10 years, apparently never tired of them.

Looking at a walk-in cooler still at the bakery, he admitted, “I used to sneak in here. They put the cream puffs and stuff in here. Once in a while I’d sneak in and get one.”

Ultimately, Budzowski said, even though it was “not hard at all” to walk away from the long hours and his much-craved breads and pastries, he can still look back fondly on those days.

“I was pretty fortunate,” he said. “I made a good living here, so I can’t complain.”

d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Carol Bohn posted this photo of the cake at her 1965 wedding on Facebook. The cake was made by New Model Bakery.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

An inventory list of baked goods has remained on a wall at the New Model Bakery since the business closed 20 years ago.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby talks about the proof box, one of the pieces of equipment that had remained in the long-closed New Model Bakery. A proof box is a container that helps bread dough rise by keeping the temperature constant. Weatherby worked at the bakery from 1958-68.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby shows the shelves on which pans of bread dough were placed prior to going into the New Model Bakery steam box, where they were put to rise.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby demonstrates the workings of a New Model Bakery machine once used to insert cream into doughnuts and lady locks.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowski, right, and his daughter, Marcia Cox, stand behind the counter where they once waited on customers at the New Model Bakery on Long Avenue.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowski, left, former owner of the New Model Bakery, and Cliff Weatherby, right, who worked for Budzowski in the 1960s, talk about the old days when both men visited the site of the long-defunct business. Behind them is Jeff Cox, Budzowski’s son-in-law.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

A mixture of labels and Christmas tree lights sit on a table inside the former New Model Bakery, awaiting sale at auction.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowksi, the last owner of a bakery that was in his family since 1914, revisits the store amid an online auction of its assets and discovers bags that were used to send bread home with customers.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Carol Bohn posted this photo of the cake at her 1965 wedding on Facebook. The cake was made by New Model Bakery.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

An inventory list of baked goods has remained on a wall at the New Model Bakery since the business closed 20 years ago.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby talks about the proof box, one of the pieces of equipment that had remained in the long-closed New Model Bakery. A proof box is a container that helps bread dough rise by keeping the temperature constant. Weatherby worked at the bakery from 1958-68.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby shows the shelves on which pans of bread dough were placed prior to going into the New Model Bakery steam box, where they were put to rise.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Cliff Weatherby demonstrates the workings of a New Model Bakery machine once used to insert cream into doughnuts and lady locks.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowski, right, and his daughter, Marcia Cox, stand behind the counter where they once waited on customers at the New Model Bakery on Long Avenue.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowski, left, former owner of the New Model Bakery, and Cliff Weatherby, right, who worked for Budzowski in the 1960s, talk about the old days when both men visited the site of the long-defunct business. Behind them is Jeff Cox, Budzowski’s son-in-law.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

A mixture of labels and Christmas tree lights sit on a table inside the former New Model Bakery, awaiting sale at auction.

'My heart's breaking' Former New Model owner, employee visit defunct bakery as online auction winds down

Ted Budzowksi, the last owner of a bakery that was in his family since 1914, revisits the store amid an online auction of its assets and discovers bags that were used to send bread home with customers.

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