Imperial Bakery at 101 N. Damen
Date: May 16, 2013 01:45PM
For years, Imperial Rye Bread was the bread of choice in our family. I remember going to the store as a young child and buying a two pound rye with seeds for my family. I can still remember the red, green, and white paper wrappers, and the little paper tag that was always on the end of the loaf. I was talking with a friend of mine who, after immigrating to the US in the early 1960's, actually worked as a maintenence man at Imperial Baking. I remember that probably in the 1970's Imperial Rye Bread became increasingly difficult to get, and I remember strikes against the bakeries, and then having to buy Augusta Rye, and then August Rye, and then finally rye bread from a bakery called Burgundy Bakery. I remember a lot of the old companies going out of business with labor troubles, but both my friend and I seem to remember a big flour explosion and fire at the old Imperial Baking plant on Damen Avenue. Searching through newspaper files, I can't find any reference to this explosion, and yet we both distinctly remember it. Does anyone else remember this and when this happened?
I was really pleased to discover through my research in this that Imperial Rye seems still to be made. The Dworkin family, that owmed Imperial Bakery, purchased Kaufman's Bagel Bakery on Dempster Street years ago, and after some health scares and a devastating fire, they are back in business. I hope to go up there this weekend and see if the rye bread meets up to the standards of the old Imperial Rye. I was familiar with the old Kaufman's Bagel Bakery that was on Lawrence Avenue in Albany Park, but that closed years ago. I have little reason to go up to Skokie any more, and was not really aware of the other location.
Anyway, interested to hear if anyone else remembers a big flour explosion over at the old bakery, probably sometime in the late 1960's or early 1970's.