Bakery gets its flavor from mix of old, new Hampden shop returns to recipe of its 'heyday'

December 08, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A whiff of the old New Systems Bakery is in the new New Systems, which just opened under new ownership in Hampden.

Jason Gallant, a 29-year-old businessman who acquired the bakery in October, said he strove to create "an old new feeling" that would not jar longtime customers or the reputation the bakery had built over decades in Hampden.

So the new curtains in the window are checkered green and white, echoing the color scheme inside the shop, which is on 36th Street -- or simply The Avenue. Inside, the walls are newly painted, but nothing looks dramatically different. The linoleum floor is refreshingly well-worn.

Most important, said Gallant, "we have all the original recipes," dating to the 1940s and 1950s, when, he said, New Systems had its "big heyday." Also, he added, the three bakers who know the old recipes by heart were asked to stay on. One has 42 years' experience, Gallant said.

Pointing to a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, selling for $3.25, Gallant said the number of raisins had been restored after being reduced in recent years by the man who bought the shop from the original owners. He had also come under criticism from some Hampden residents and merchants for closing Sundays, usually a busy day in the bakery business.

"Business is picking up wonderfully," Gallant said. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

A 76-year-old Hampden man, Sherman Riley, walked in yesterday morning and bought chocolate raisin buns, which Riley said are one of his wife's favorites.

"I used to have all my birthday cakes made here," said Riley. "This was my favorite bake shop."

An assortment of a dozen doughnuts sells for $6 -- or, as Stacey Booth, the mother of 3-year-old Sara and 2-year-old April, well knows, only 50 cents each. Her daughters love the sprinkled doughnuts, she said, and she considers that a fair price for a treat on their Avenue rounds.

Unobtrusively tucked into one side of the shop is what's new about the bakery: bagels. Bagels in Hampden are a fairly new concept.

Gallant, whose family started the Sam's Bagels shops in the Baltimore area, says he will offer a variety of bagels alongside pastries, pies, rolls, cookies and doughnuts.

He also plans a sit-down coffee bar.

The most daring innovation might be a neon sign, which will be installed about the time of the grand opening early next month, said Gallant.

Pub Date: 12/08/97

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