Many things come to mind during the holiday season here in Batavia. One of those things is that fresh, baked goods complete our family get-togethers.
Batavia had several locally-owned family bakeries in its past, and one of the best known was Hiscutt’s.
The Hiscutt Bakery provided fresh baked bread and other treats to our area for more than a quarter of a century, before turning over to the Table Top Bakery.
Arthur and Robert Hiscutt started the bakery in 1905 when they opened a little business at 240 Ellicott St. A third brother, Grant, was a partner in the Best Service Delivery Company, and the brothers formed a partnership between the bakery and the delivery service as one operation, which allowed their goods to reach the public much more efficiently. By 1918, the business had expanded to such an extent, that it quickly outgrew its small space on Ellicott. It purchased a larger lot on Center Street, just behind the old Masonic Temple building. There it built a brand new bakery, which opened in October of that year. John Lennon & Sons constructed the foundation, and R. Norton Reed did the interior carpentry. The Daily News called it “the finest small plant in the county.”
In 1921, the brothers purchased the lot next door in order to build a garage and shipping room, which would allow the bakery to double its output, amounting to 7,000 loaves of bread and 15,000 dozens of rolls. The expanded shipping service meant Hiscutt Bakery could now deliver rolls and bread as far away as Allegany County.
With the factory expanded, Hiscutt’s had all sorts of cookies, doughnuts, and other baked goods for sale at their retail counter at the front of the building. After the expansion, the bakery was using 20 barrels of flour a day, and by 1925, it had four ovens working round the clock and a fleet of four delivery trucks. Hiscutt’s was responsible for making Center Street smell of fresh baked bread every morning.
By the 1930s, competition had grown from other bakeries and chain stores, which hurt the business. Ownership of the bakery transferred to the Genesee Trust Company in 1932, but the Hiscutt family continued to produce bread and other goods, though at a much reduced number.
After five years, a new owner purchased the bakery with his sights on growing what the Hiscutt brothers had begun more than 30 years earlier.
In 1937, the bakery was sold to R. Walter Riehlman of Tully, N.Y., and it was he who changed the name to The Table Top Bakery.
Riehlman renovated the bakery and expanded the operations. He continued the retail counter and added new trucks and delivery routes that ran throughout Genesee County. The ovens were replaced with larger and more powerful ones, capable of churning out 300 loaves, and ran nearly 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Table Top Bakery operated for some years, before the building was sold to the DiCarlo brothers, Anthony and John, who had a laundry business there. Eventually, the property was sold to George E. Smith Motors, and the building was finally torn down in the second phase of urban renewal and made into a parking lot.
Ryan Duffy is executive director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia. His “History with the HLOM” column appears twice a month in The Daily News. To read past columns, go to thedailynewsonline.com.