SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio – Even when the scores of cookie jars lining the cabinets in Lucy’s Sweet Surrender have been overflowing with money, Michael Feigenbaum most likely would nonetheless have to shut his bakery.
Feigenbaum has owned the enterprise for 26 years. He moved it from the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood to its present location on Chagrin Boulevard simply west of Warrensville Heart Highway a decade in the past. It’s positioned within the former Chandler & Rudd house, a 145-year-old specialty grocer that had been within the spot since 1960.
However the finish of the bakery, as he sees it, is coming quickly. It isn’t coronavirus, it isn’t poor financing or mounting debt, it isn’t points over a lease.
It is Feigenbaum’s incapability to seek out somebody who desires to take over.
“My number-one objective was to seek out individuals like I used to be 25 years in the past who wish to personal a bakery,” he mentioned. “As an alternative of ranging from scratch, they will begin with a considerable sum of money coming within the door, an enormous popularity, revenue streams from on-line transport, supply round Cleveland, the farmers markets and the shop.
“In the event that they have been finally shopping for me out fully, sure, they’d personal all the pieces – the recipes, the strategies, the identify, the web site – all of what I personal I might give them.”
It could be a deal, he mentioned, as a result of a brand new proprietor would not have to take a position $300,00Zero to $500,00Zero to begin such a enterprise from scratch. They may apprentice to be taught Lucy’s model as they transitioned into operating the place.
However that concept is proving elusive as a result of irrespective of how onerous Feigenbaum appears to be like, potential bakers-business house owners aren’t speeding in.
Final week, he posted an emotional Fb plea born out of frustration with not having the ability to discover a future purchaser.
“I made a decision to jot down that factor as a Hail Mary,” he mentioned.
He stays looking out for potential consumers. He has scoured culinary faculties. He traveled to a pastry faculty’s job truthful in Chicago.
“They would not transfer to Cleveland,” he mentioned. “I obtained nothing out of it. I spent two days there. I’ve been aggressively trying behind the scenes.”
Envisioning the top began final Christmas for Feigenbaum. He might barely sustain with vacation demand.
Feigenbaum, 66, has a again worn by the numerous hunches that include kneading, rolling, slicing, shaping. However he saved plodding on.
“My spouse and I had a heart-to-heart about ‘What are we going to do now?’ ” he mentioned. They figured they might deal with the slower winter, January via March, on their very own, then gear up with some assist for Easter and Passover.
“By some means we’ll pull it off,” he mentioned, “so we’ll have a booming vacation season after which I will name the liquidator.”
Then coronavirus hit. Liquidators backed off from any potential sale.
“We stayed open,” he mentioned, regardless of about $eight,00Zero value of Easter and Passover orders being canceled.
Then one thing fascinating occurred. Lucy’s neighborhood, when you get off Chagrin Boulevard, is closely residential. When Feigenbaum moved into the spot he thought the residents would discover him. For no matter purpose, they did not, he mentioned. However when the stay-at-home order hit, the residents immediately discovered his place as a quick respite, a fast cease on a stroll to get out of the home.
That stream of enterprise, albeit restricted, together with a federal Paycheck Safety Program mortgage, and the rent of two school college students who have been house, helped the enterprise “eek alongside.”
Now the pair of scholars are leaving. He is weathered two main recessions, 9/11 and the pandemic. He is had a gradual, neighborhood enterprise. He delivers to farmers markets and has crafted desserts for eating places. However what he would not have is a farm system of potential bakers, a pool of expertise to select from, somebody to run the enterprise that he admits “is numerous onerous work, and also you’re inheriting a heritage and a legacy.”
“It’s at all times been good however not nice. It’s by no means been dangerous the place I am going ‘I’ve obtained to exit of enterprise as a result of I don’t make sufficient cash,’ ” he mentioned.
The underside line, he mentioned, is that he has “come to the conclusion that I am not keen to maintain going anymore. We’re dealing with a Rosh Hashanah season in September the place we have now to make 800 or 1,00Zero loaves of bread in three days with no assist. And I am not going to do it.”
Bodily, the demand of baking for 40 years has taken its toll for the Shaker Heights Excessive College graduate who grew up on Lytle Highway a block from the bakery.
Fruit Danishes, chocolate-chip cookies, glazed doughnuts and different goodies fill the counter in Lucy’s, which covers about Three,00Zero of the greater than 5,00Zero sq. ft within the constructing. Dozens of freshly baked loaves cool within the kitchen. The cookie-jar assortment shapes the décor. However except Feigenbaum finds somebody by mid-August, he is able to put all the pieces up on the market, from the oven to the utensils.
“There may very well be a last-minute Hail Mary reply,” he mentioned, “and I am able to do it.”
However for now, as Feigenbaum says, “I am combating an uphill battle.”