“There was… a bakery that made the best cinnamon buns on earth. Sunday after church, people would come from all over and buy bakery goods, and I remember seeing their fresh bread sold in whole loaves or sliced there in the store.”
In 1938 two German immigrants, August Neuland and his brother-in-law Frank Wenger, founded the Calvert Pastry Shop, at 2207 Wisconsin Avenue. It was the first business to open in the Park and Shop Center, which was developed by Shannon & Luchs in 1937. After 1958 the Calvert Shop was run by August and his wife Josephine; when they retired in 1972, theirs was the only business that had been there from the very beginning. (The little shopping center opposite W Place was razed in 1980.)
Although the Park and Shop Center––which had an A & P, a five and dime, and a drug store with a soda fountain in the Forties––must have been fairly sedate in its early days, by the Sixties it had become the home of The Keg, a beer hall with live rock bands that was a nocturnal beacon to college students––and to carloads of teenagers from the suburbs––at a time when the legal drinking age in the District of Columbia was still 18.
But while bars have closing hours, the Calvert Pastry Shop was open all night, and did a land-office business. August Neuland’s fabled 17% butterfat ice cream was made on premises, and fresh Parker House rolls were known to come out of the oven at one in the morning.
Betty Neuland Gandy writes:
My father and the whole staff were exempt from WWII draft because of the Red Cross intervention. The bakery had a contract to provide the Red Cross with donuts after giving blood and they petitioned the draft board to exempt all of them. (My father had the contract with the Red Cross until he closed.)
Because there was rationing on sugar, my dad had to rely on molasses. One day, upon the delivery of the molasses, the barrel got away from them and crashed into the display cabinets. Such a sticky mess!
On the day [in 1971 that an article mentioning the Calvert Pastry Shop’s ice cream] was printed, my father went back to his closed shop to pick up a pie. The line waiting to get into the shopping center extended down Wisconsin Avenue. Needless to say he did not stop. From that day forward, Dad could not make enough ice cream. Customers were willing to have it runny, before it had set. At that time he sold it by weight.
Dad would offer police coffee and a donut on their late night shift. One thing led to another and people discovered that the bakery was open at midnight. He was unable to bake and staff the front on weekends, so he hired my husband, Richard Ganley to supervise the extra help he had to hire and deliver the donuts.
Many Sundays there was hardly enough merchandise to sell after church services. The leftovers he took to Georgetown Visitation, but only when he had enough for at least one per nun.
(“New Park and Shop Center to Be Managed by Shannon & Luchs Co.”, Washington Post, August 15, 1937, p.R7; “Wisconsin Avenue Bars Relieve Drought for Suburbia’s Teens”, Washington Post Times Herald, August 24 1964, p.C1; “August Neuland Feeds Flocks of Wisconsin Avenue’s Night Owls”, Washington Post Times Herald, July 29, 1971, p.D3; Colman McCarthy, “Is Washington’s Ice Cream Heavenly Anymore?”, Washington Post Times Herald, Sunday Magazine, August 22, 1971, p.23; “Bakery Shuttered”, Evening Star, March 22, 1972, p.60; “August Neuland, Pastry Shop Owner”, Washington Post, September 18, 1992, p.B7; “Frank Wenger, Baker”, Washington Post, January 5, 1995, p.B7; “Josephine Neuland, Bakery Co-owner”, Washington Post, December 6, 2009, p.C9)
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