(reprinted from the February 17, 2005 edition of The Cleveland Jewish News)
What the Cedar/Taylor Road area in Cleveland heights ahs lost in Lax & Mandel challah, Russian tea biscuits and bagels, the Cedar/Green area has picked up with the opening of the bakery’s new location at 14439 Cedar Road.
It is next door to its former Cedar/Green store and incorporates both the retail store and baking facility.
The Taylor Road store, home to Lax & Mandel Bakery since 1956, is now for rent. The other Cedar/Green location, in the former BP ProCare building on the corner, is also for rent.
Lax & Mandel’s current location was most recently home to The Low Carb Store, Chocolate Emporium and Helen Hutchley’s Ice Cream Parlor. The Low Carb Store recently went out of business, and Chocolate Emporium took over Helen Hutchley’s and moved to new quarters across the street on Cedar.
Founders Shimon Lax and Burt Mandel ran the bakery from 1956 to 1980, when they sold it to Sheldon and Helen Weiser and Mark Rubin. The three co-woned it until Rubin bought out his partners in 1983, only to close it the following year.
Zach Cohen, owner of Abba’s market and Girlle in Cedar Center, reopened the bakery in 1987, keeping the Lax & Mandel name. In 1994, Sheldon and Helen Weiser, along with their son Jeffrey, bought back the bakery and continue to run it.
In the face of declining business at Taylor Road, the Weisers opened the Cedar/Green store two years agoa. However, the baking facility remained at Taylor Road. “But transporting baked goods from Cleveland Heights to South Euclid was inconvenient at best,” says Weiser. “Before, when we ran out of something on teh shelves here, we had to drive it over from Taylor Road. Now we just go downstairs (where the goods are baked) and get more.”
In an effort to rejuvenate the Taylor Road location, the Weisers tried some innovative ideas. They acquired the space next door and, for a short time ran a deli, Lax and Mandeli, adjacent to the bakery. Cute name, but “it was a losing proposition from Day One,” concedes Weiser.
Weiser estimates her clientele is about 30% Orthodox Jews, 40% all other Jews, and 30% non-Jews. She says, “Non-Jews like our pareve (non-dairy) products because they are lactose free.”
“We were sad to leave the Cleveland Heights location,” concludes Weiser.