Second in a series about East Meadow’s oldest eateries.
Sifting through her grandfather’s recipe box, Debbie Entenmann, baker and co-owner of Entenmann’s Family Bakery, on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, tried to decipher her grandfather Richard’s German writing.
“It’s a very old-style kind of German handwriting,” Entenmann said with a laugh. “My mother found the box in the attic about two months ago, and I’ve been trying to decipher German ever since.”
Richard Entenmann established a bakery in 1935 in St. Albans, Queens. Debbie’s father, William, worked alongside Richard, until Richard’s retirement in the 1960s.
“The dates are a little fuzzy to me,” Debbie chuckled. “But once my grandfather retired, my father bought his own bakery in Mineola in the ‘60s.”
William’s bakery preserved the family name to continue to draw its usual customers, and new ones as well. In 1976, Richard opened a second Entenmann’s Family Bakery in his hometown, East Meadow. For years, Richard traveled back and forth from Mineola to East Meadow.
“It was too much for him,” Debbie said. “So he decided to sell the Mineola location to one of his bakers so he could stay closer to home.”
For 41 years, Entenmann’s Family Bakery has been a staple of the community. William and Nancy, Debbie’s mother, ran the store, preserving classic recipes and inventing new ones. Now, Debbie and her sister, Donna, run the shop together.
“The bakery was handed down to us several years ago,” she said. “But both my parents are still involved with the bakery.”
Although Debbie has not been able to decipher all of her grandfather’s recipes, she has brought back two classic ones that have been a hit with the community so far: French cheesecake and sour cream cake.
“We ask regulars to try new stuff sometimes,” she said. “They give honest opinions because they’re here so often.”
Since the bakery’s establishment, the community has enjoyed treats, sweets and family-friendly service. Peggy Keegan, an East Meadow resident for about 40 years, said she and her husband have come to the bakery about once a week since they first moved to the community. “Our favorite thing to get is the mini-apple turnovers,” Keegan said. “We visit my family all the way out east, and we stop by the bakery to get the turnovers because my family loves them.”
Entenmann’s Family Bakery also caters sporting events, school fundraisers and East Meadow High School’s Senior Day, at which breakfast and treats are provided for attendees.
According to Donna Normandia, Debbie’s sister and the bakery’s co-owner, they also make pies for Thanksgiving fundraisers and Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Debbie is in charge of the baking, and I’m in charge of donations, and I work in the front,” Normandia said. “We’re involved in the local schools, the local churches and the Island Harvest for charities.”
For Island Harvest, Entenmann’s donates food for food banks, which are distributed to the homeless. The bakery also supplies specialty cakes, making treats for all occasions, from first birthdays to Sweet 16 parties. “Recently we started collaborating with Borrelli’s when they have an event that needs a cake,” Entenmann said.
The bakery also attracts a crowd from outside of East Meadow. “I live in West Babylon, but I work in East Meadow,” Laurie Keller explained. “I have still been coming here for 10 years. I love the crumb buns and the doughnut twists.”
When the sisters took over, they updated the equipment and the storefront, but kept the same family bakery environment established by generations before them.
Although they enjoy experimenting with new recipes like mousse cakes, they find that their customers return for the classics.
“We sell a lot of crumb buns and old-fashioned doughnuts,” Debbie said. “Our doughnuts are made with my grandfather’s original recipes. I think that’s why people like coming to our bakery — because we make quality, old-fashioned treats, as opposed to mainstream desserts.”