NYC has its share of regional bakeries…Brooklynites swore by Ebinger’s up till about 1970 or so, and NYC still has its Entenmann’s; most of NYC’s urban neighborhoods have popular bakeries. Bayside and Astoria boast Martha’s, which I have vowed to stay clear of for the most part lest my waistline inflate even more than it has in 63 years. NY State’s Capital district has its Freihofer’s, while mid-Staten Island has Holtermann’s, at 405 Arthur Kill Road between Miles Avenue and Gifford’s Lane.
The bakery was founded by German immigrant Klaus Holtermann in 1878, in what is now part of the Richmondtown Restoration, but what was then simply the town of Richmond at what was then the seat of county government. The bakery was first located at the Restoration’s Treasure House and then a candy factory on Centre Street before moving to its present location several decades ago.
The Treasure House has a colorful history of its own. The Treasure House, where three of Staten Island’s major roads meet, was built here in 1700 and was enlarged between 1740 and 1860. In Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” he sings: “I’ve been a pauper, a piper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king” and this building has housed saddlemakers, tanners, shoemakers, Holtermann’s, and has been a post office. During the Revolution, the story goes, British troops hid away a cache of sovereigns worth about $7000. How else to explain their being found here by painters in 1854?
The bakery is still run by members of the Holtermann family. Patriarch Clifford worked at the bakery in a variety of roles until his death at age 91 in 2019. His daughter, Jill Holtermann Bowers and husband Jeff Bowers, and his nephew, Billy Holtermann, represent the fifth generation of Holtermanns in the family business.
The bakery still sells items popular a century ago such as Pullman loaves (white bread baked in a lidded pan, so called because the loaves were shipped in Pullman cars at the height of the railroad transportation era); a Bundt cake variety called a santart; and charlotte russe, sponge cake served with whipped cream and a cherry.
As a tribute to his late father, nicknamed the Cookie Man and the only member of the clan to have received formal culinary training, Billy Holtermann oversees production of almost every cookie. Selections include the Mexican wedding cookie and the cowboy cookie, the latter of which is rampant in Middle America and Texas, and is a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with oats, peanuts, coconut and cinnamon. House-made honey, a byproduct of another relative’s abandoned apiary, lines the windowsill. [NY Times]
Yankee fans note: Holtermann’s head baker is named Joe Pepitone.