In 1949, the first Polaroid camera was sold. The first Volkswagen Beetle was introduced in the United States and the NBA (National Basketball Association) was born. But there was a first of equal importance that same year, the opening of the Three Brothers Bakery here in Houston, Texas. This year the Space City’s most popular family-owned bakery is celebrating 70 years. Take a moment with us and look back at how far we’ve come.
The Early Years
On May 8, 1949, the three brothers: Sigmund, Sol, and Max bought Alfred Meschakat’s (pictured above) bakery. The building was located at the intersection of Holman St. at La Branch directly across from the Beth Israel Synagogue.
Like other growing cities in the United States, Houston was enjoying a post-war economic boom. The average annual salary was $2,950.00. The cost of a new car was $1,420.00 and gas was only 17 cents a gallon. With that in mind, the first Three Brothers Bakery had a single parking spot.
In 1955, we moved the store to Almeda and Southmore and set-up shop right next to the Leff Brothers Grocery store. This location offered more square footage and more parking spots for our expanding customer base.
It wasn’t until 1960, that Three Brothers Bakery moved to our longest standing location on Braeswood Blvd. Unlike many Houston establishments at the time, our bakery didn’t offer separate seating areas or bathrooms for African Americans. As survivors of the Holocaust, Sigmund, Sol and Max had experienced discrimination first-hand during WW II. Despite continued resistance to segregation throughout Houston and the state of Texas, all races were welcomed at Three Brothers Bakery.
Fast forward to the 1970s, our Braeswood location was well established and our customer base continued to grow. We truly became a family operated business, as Bobby Jucker (son of Sigmund) while still in high school began working in the bakery. His sister and cousins followed suit.
After the “kids” returned from college, we opened two more locations during the 1980s, including a store in Sugar Land and another in River Oaks. Additionally, we developed our now famous checkerboard logo design with the cartoon-like drawings of the three brothers. The checkerboard came from the floor in the bakery which was the black and white tiles reminiscent of New York delis, as the bakery was a deli when it opened in 1960 on Braeswood.
Our kitchen equipment was modernized with a new state-of-the-art rack oven imported from France and a revolving Baxterwas purchased. These pieces of equipment meant Three Brothers Bakery was finally technologically advanced.
As the glass skyscrapers of Houston’s downtown went up one by one, our list of corporate clients grew as well. One of our biggest customers was Six Flags AstroWorld. This 75 acre amusement park was located south of the 610 Loop and opened in 1968.
Another out-this-world experience was creating the famous and official 20th anniversary cake for the Astrodome, the former stadium home of the Houston Oilers and the Astros.
The new millennium brought a tremendous amount of change and upheaval to Three Brothers Bakery.
In 2001, tropical storm Allison flooded our Braeswood store with 3ft of water. We were forced to close for three days.
In 2006, Janice co-owner of Three Brothers Bakery was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband and business partner Bobby shaved his head in solidarity. Janice fought the disease with tremendous determination. Now in remission she is heavily involved in the Susan G. Komen Foundation raising awareness and money for breast cancer research.
Unfortunately, we weren’t immune to hurricane Ike which hit Houston in 2008 on September 12th. Our Braeswood location was closed for over 9 months.
Despite the longest closure in Three Brothers Bakery history, we celebrated our 60th anniversary in May 2009. Family and friends gathered including our very first customer from 1949, Clyde Cannon. He has become a symbol of our business success and now ceremoniously cuts the first piece of cake at every one of our new store openings.
2010 to Present Day
In 2010 we were honored by Country Living Magazine with the “Best Mail Order Pecan Pie America Has to Offer” award which led to the creation of our now famous Pumpecapple Piecake. Other national exposure occurred in 2011, when Bobby competed in the Food Network’s Cake Challenge-Extreme Pirate Cakes. Not to mention our Key Lime pie won the APC (American Pie Council) National Pie Championship in 2017.
During the same period our business grew with the addition of two more stores, in Memorial City and another on Washington Ave. in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Perhaps one of our proudest moments took place after hurricane Harvey in 2017. Having suffered tremendous damage to our stores Janice & Bobby have become advocates and educators for on the topic of small business disaster recovery. They began educating and lobbying politicians and the public about the importance of helping independently owned businesses thrive after disasters. In recognition of their recovery efforts, they received the SBA (Small Business Association) Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery in Washington D.C in 2018.
While receiving the award in DC, Janice and Bobby met the team from VISA responsible for small and medium sized businesses. They are proud to say they inspired VISA to take on small business disaster recovery and resiliency as a company cause. VISA has started their efforts with a website to help find businesses that are open after federally declared disasters, found at visa.com/backtobusiness. Additionally, VISA is creating more in this space and we are thrilled to be giving feedback as they continue building out the programs for small business resiliency.
All of this brings us to present day-2019. May 8th, 2019, will be a big day as we are receiving the SBA Small Family Business of the Year award, for the Houston District, at their annual SCORE luncheon. After lunch we are honored to host some of the SBA’s VIPs at the bakery and at 4pm at our Braeswood location as we celebrate 70 years of business. We invite everyone to join us at 4pm for the cake cutting.
We are looking forward to a successful future which will undoubtedly include many more celebrations and challenges. We will continue to treat our customers like family and offer the highest quality baked goods in Houston, just as Sol, Sigmund and Max did 70 years ago and most importantly, continue to make sweet memories for YOU. It is because of YOU, our loyal customers, that we have made it to 70 years. So to YOU we say THANK YOU!