Beloved Baker Not Ready To Close His Doors

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Franz Steiner

Steiner’s Pastry Shop has been a fixture on Plandome Road for nearly 40 years. Opened in 1979, Franz Steiner’s baking has been a staple of Manhasset’s diet for generations. “I am not ready to retire,” claims Steiner. The bakery, located at 432 Plandome Rd., will close its doors after Easter Sunday, April 1. According to Steiner’s attorney, Paul Petras, the owner of the property has already leased the property to Green’s Pub, next door.

Born in Austria, Steiner immigrated to the U.S. in 1969. Steiner comes from a family of bakers. He earned a master’s degree in baking in Salzburg. When he came to U.S., he worked at German bakeries in New York City, Queens and Long Island, and took a position at the famous Milleridge Inn. In 1979, he learned of an opportunity to purchase a bakery in the hamlet of Manhasset. The location was Otto’s Bake Shop, which was there for 18 years and, before that, was Holiday Bake Shoppe, which was in business for 26 years. On March 15, 1979, Steiner took over the bakery, and the transition with Otto was completed April 1, 1979. The bakery was renamed Steiner’s Pastry Shop and history was made. So it is ironic that, practically 39 years to the day, the doors will close.

With his good nature, Steiner has a twinkle in his eye whenever he speaks of baking. It is in his blood as the generations were before him. Steiner’s passion is to create new and different delicacies to excite the palate. He created the melt-away and, with the rise of weight consciousness and smaller families, the mini-meltaway. His entire family was involved with the bakery as well, including his children and his wife and mother-in-law, lovingly referred to as ‘Mutti.’ She would put together fabulous cookie trays that would delight buyers who would give them as gifts for the holiday season. Mutti would come to visit for the holidays to work and return back to Austria after Easter.

Delicious apple cake

Growing competition from supermarkets, changing diets and bigger operators have impacted Steiner’s business. Before, pies were the staples for Thanksgiving holiday, Easter cakes, cookies and babkas for Easter. Now it has changed.

All the products he makes are handmade and the taste truly reflects that. His products don’t have any preservatives. He buys and uses only quality ingredients for his baking. The range of products are limited, with him working alone in the back. “I like to have somebody European trained, but that is difficult to find,” Steiner noted.

He enjoys being an independent businessman, with an excellent staff who has been with him for years especially his longtime and loyal employee Hilde Abbot. Two of his younger staff, Emily Pedersen and Sarah Reid, grew up with the delicious treats created by the bake shop.

Steiner lives nearby in the village of Great Neck. His day begins at 3:30 a.m., he works until 1 p.m. and then he goes to swim at the Denton Avenue pool, after which he goes home to enjoy some lunch. He returns in the afternoon to set up for the next day. Once he closes the store for the day, he goes home to watch the news and go to bed.

He has four children: a daughter in Portland, OR, a son living in Sarnac Lake, NY, a daughter attending Adelphi University and a son at John Jay College studying Fire Engineering. Steiner is looking forward to playing a bit of golf, swimming and recreation. He is still going to continue to bake at home. Having to work six days and holidays did not allow much downtime for Steiner, so he is looking forward to doing little trips with his family and perhaps some cross-country skiing.

Regulars of the bakery are already hoarding his delicious baked goods by freezing them. Eileen Cuneo and Diane Gershkowitz are upset about his closing. “He has the best melt-aways,” said Gershkowitz.

Caren Benipayo, who grew up in Manhasset, said, “Steiner’s had the best Easter cookies.”
Steiner said he would continue baking at home for friends and people can reach him through steinerspastryshop@yahoo.com.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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