Local baker's return is sweet news to many

Pastries: After eight years in retirement, Frank Bruns of Catonsville welcomes the idea of spending the early mornings with flour and ovens again.

May 03, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

When people talk about a person coming out of retirement it's usually a superstar athlete like a boxer or basketball star.

Why not a baker?

Frank Bruns of Catonsville has emerged from an eight-year hiatus to again produce the Danishes, pastries, turnovers, buns and doughnuts that once stood as the staples of his business, the Catonsville Bakery.

This time, however, Bruns, 69, is working downtown at the Coffee Junction, 805 Frederick Road, where owner Chuck Quick lured him out of retirement. And the traffic in and out of the shop is proof that area residents are welcoming the return.

"We had double the crowd today," said store clerk Steven Wineke. "The marshmallow doughnuts are going like crazy."

Early training

Bruns grew up in baking. As an 8-year-old, he says, he was cleaning pans and frying doughnuts for his father, Franz, a master baker from Germany who operated a store in West Baltimore.

Bruns became so involved in the operation that he never finished high school, instead quitting to work with his father. By that time, he had graduated to pies and turnovers.

"First you learn to make it," Bruns said, remembering his father's lesson. "Then you learn to make it from your heart."

His father took over the Catonsville store on Edmondson Avenue in 1957.

Bruns took charge in 1962 and operated it for 30 years, building a clientele that traveled from miles around to sample the smorgasbord of goods made with fresh butter, milk and eggs every morning.

"We expanded the place two times," Bruns said. "We had one guy who would come up from Richmond every year at Thanksgiving to get pumpkin pie."

Bruns retired in 1992 and sold the store, which was damaged by a fire in 1998. The family that bought the store recently shut its doors for the first time in 70 years.

Quick, who also owns the neighboring Pinocchio's Pizza, wanted to get into the baking business. He had a mutual friend approach Bruns, who welcomed the idea of getting back among the ovens and flour in the early morning.

"He lives and breathes baking," Quick said.

Locals abuzz

Quick is preparing to open a Catonsville Bakery between his stores. Customers such as Tim Moylan, a longtime Catonsville resident, are abuzz at the news of the baker's return.

"It's the old type of baking that you would see years ago that you don't see today, which is more of an assembly line," Moylan said.

Marian Dixon, who had been going to the bakery for 30 years, said her family is thrilled by Bruns' return.

"My son will be glad about the marshmallow doughnuts," Dixon said. "He said that nobody makes marshmallow doughnuts like the Catonsville Bakery."

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