The bakery’s story began in Chrzanow, Poland, in a building in which Napoleon had spent the night. We believe the bakery opened around 1825 and was last known as Morris Jucker’s Bakery.
We relate our story to you as told to us by Sigmund Jucker, one of the original three brothers.
Since there were no mixers at the time, everything was truly handmade. The dough was placed in a trough and everything was mixed by hand. Two of Morris’ children, Sigmund and Sol, went to work at the bakery at only ten years old due to a bakers’ strike in 1932. The European Era of our family bakery ended when Sigmund and Sol were 19 years old and the family was sent to concentration camps in 1941.
On May 8, 1945, Sigmund arose early, so he could awaken everyone in the camp, which was one of his jobs. On this day, Liberation Day, he arose to find no SS officers watching or even in the camp. The SS fled in such a hurry and luckily had not even turned on the electrified fences. Sigmund found wire cutters and actually cut the wires on the gate, giving him and the other prisoners freedom. Sigmund was the first to take a breath of freedom outside the gate. He fell and literally kissed the ground.
Three Brothers Bakery Comes to Houston
He was fortunate enough to have survived with his two brothers and their older sister. On May 8, 1949, Sigmund, his twin brother, Sol, and younger brother Max, opened Three Brothers Bakery on Holman Street in Houston, Texas. They bought an existing bakery from the Meschkat family. Since they still didn’t have mixers, everything was handmade, just as it was in Europe. Sigmund recalls their first day was not as successful as they had hoped. They sold $19 worth of product. On opening day, the coffee cake that we sell to this day was $0.55.
That first day taught them a very valuable lesson: in Houston, if you don’t have good parking, you will struggle. Hence they struggled with their one parking place.
Sigmund, Sol, Max, and their older sister all survived. Four years to the day, on May 8th, 1949, Sigmund, his twin brother, Sol, and younger brother Max opened Three Brothers Bakery on Holman Street at La Branch in Houston, Texas, across from Beth Israel Synagogue. They bought the bakery from the Meschkat family. For a very long time, the Jucker brothers kept with their European roots and made everything by hand.
The very first and still special customer was Clyde Cannon who stopped in on his way to school at San Jacinto High. Since reopening after Hurricane Ike, Clyde has been our Official First Customer at all our openings. He also still meets with Sigmund and their friend Joe on some Mondays at our Washington Ave shop.
In Poland, no one ate very sweet foods, so the brothers learned to make American cakes and pastries. Many of Three Brothers Bakery baked goods still use the original Eastern European recipes, including rye bread, challah, danish, cheese pockets, Kaiser rolls, biales, traditional bagels, and onion boards, to name a few. The three brothers were the first to bring the bagel to Houston. Our famous gingerbread recipe from the Old Country was modified in America in 1960, and we still use the same recipe today.
Moving to Almeda and Braeswood
They survived on Holman with one parking place for five years and in May 1955, they moved the bakery to Almeda Street at Southmore – right next to Leff Brothers. The great parking made them successful enough to move again to South Braeswood in May, 1960, since the Jewish community seemed to be moving to the Braeswood/Meyerland area.
Today, Braeswood is a major street, but in 1960, the bakery was at the end of the road and rumored to have cows living nearby. It took time, but Three Brothers Bakery hung in there and eventually became a Houston institution, making eastern European-style breads and pastries, cookies, cupcakes, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, pies and specialty themed cakes.
For thirteen years since opening on Holman Street, the three Jucker brothers had run the bakery among themselves. In 1963, they took another big step and hired their first employee and bought a mixer – finally!
Bobby has fond memories of spending time in the bakery as a boy. It’s where he grew up.
Some might remember our other past locations in River Oaks on West Gray, which closed when that part of the historic River Oaks Shopping Center was torn down, and in Sugarland, which closed with the long drawn out construction on the 59 freeway.
Bobby Begins Running the Bakery
Around the year 2000, Bobby, Sigmund’s eldest and 5th generation baker, took over the bakery and in 2005, his wife, Janice, joined him. Since then, we have created a second generation of history in America, noted by store openings, disasters and accolades.
A Second Expansion
As we became more widely known as a full service award-winning bakery in Houston, we decided to expand. In 2012 and 2014, we opened two more locations on Kingsride Lane near Memorial City Mall and Washington Ave. off Shepherd, respectively. We were also one of the first retail bakeries in America with an online store.
The bakery has operated continuously except for:
We are proud to say we paid our employees the entire time we were closed.
Additionally, we took on water during the 2016 tax day floods, and we also had a fire in December, 2016, in our main freezer as we readied ourselves for the holidays.
The Reinvention of Three Brothers Bakery
Prior to Ike, we began to reinvent Three Brothers Bakery, but after Ike, the transformation took on a life of its own. Admittedly, before Hurricane Ike, Braeswood, for lack of a better term, was a dump. We were able to completely renovate. Janice always says “out of everything bad comes something good.”
Then with the advent of the Food Network® cake became recognized as an art form. Two things happened to put us on the “TV Food Map.” The first was our pecan pie being named by Country Living Magazine “The best mail order pecan pie America has to offer,” and second we stepped up to a challenge by Greg Morago from The Houston Chronicle to create a 3 layer piecake, which we named the Pumpecapple Piecake.
The Pumpecapple Piecake has now been featured on Food Network’s Outrageous Food, Buzzfeed’s Worth It and the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise and popped up throughout media when it went viral in 2014 as the hottest holiday dessert in America. Bobby has competed in the Food Network Challenge – Extreme Pirate Cakes. Additionally, our pecan pie has continued to rack up national accolades with some found in Town & Country Magazine, Bon Appétit and Southern Weddings. Our Key Lime Pie won the 2017 National Pie Championship in Florida! Recognition of all our efforts has been seen through national and local awards, magazines, and television shows. One of the most surprising accolades was winning the Small Business Administration’s Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery in 2018 based on our Hurricane Harvey recovery. Janice and Bobby like to call themselves the King and Queen of Disasters, and it became official with the Phoenix award. They also tell people that this is one award for which you never want to qualify.
The Business Coach Journey
One last transformation occurred when Janice and Bobby hired a business coach in 2009. They learned they should find someone else to handle the day-to-day operations and focus on their own strengths, so they hired a management team. That proved to be a great experience and a great decision, enabling the aforementioned growth.
Additionally, we participated in the Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Businesses program in 2012, the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program in 2018 and just try to continue learning the language of business through programs such as those put on through ICIC, ICCC, and at the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers.
Giving Back to the Community
Lastly, we continue to give back to the community by feeding the homeless and hungry with our day old bread, working with Celebration Company, being on the board of Susan G. Komen Houston, previously on the local Hadassah chapter, and teaching at the Small Business Development Center that has helped us so much.
Now, here we are, five generations and 200 years later. Bobby and Janice want to give credit to our expanded team of bakers, decorators, salespeople and last but certainly not least – the management team.
When you shop at Three Brothers Bakery, whether it is in one of our stores or our online store, we want you to feel a part of our family. Through creating all our edible delights, we are making lifelong memories, which is why we say at Three Brothers Bakery we are actually “memory makers who happen to be bakers.®”
Stop by, say hello and enjoy,
The Jucker Family