STEUBENVILLE — A family owned bakery celebrated 65 years in business by offering its best-selling doughnuts for 65 cents, along with a ribbon cutting.
Downtown Bakery in Steubenville was established in 1958 by George Kotch and Alex J. Kamarados, father of current co-owners John and Rikki Kamarados. Balloons adorned the bakery’s front door, where the owners, friends, family and supporters gathered for an event, organized by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
“I appreciate everybody coming — it means a lot to us. … We keep on a legacy that my dad and his partner started 65 years ago, and it’s been in the family ever since,” Rikki Kamarados said after cutting the ribbon.
Located at 151 S. Fourth Street, Downtown Bakery’s building has been home to a bakery for omore than 100 years, Rikki Kamarados said, with Remy’s Bakery — later renamed Downtown Bakery — coming before in the early 1900s. Alex J. Kamarados worked with Kotch at a separate bakery during high school. The two discovered that Downtown Bakery was for sale, and they bought it at the encouragement of their former boss.
The men bought the store and worked there with their wives, Marie Kamarados and Margaret Kotch, helping at the front counter, Rikki Kamardos said. George Kotch retired after 40 years, at which point Rikki and John Kamarados bought out his portion and became official business partners, although Rikki Kamarados said that “as soon as we could count to 12, we were down here packing rolls.”
When their father retired at the age of 82, the two took the helm of the business.
John Kamarados’ sons, Alex and Nikolas Kamarados, assist with daily operations at the store as well. Rikki Kamarados said that her grandfather and Kotch’s father helped at the bakery around Christmas, meaning that John Kamarados’ sons represent the bakery’s fourth generation of family contributors.
Nikolas Kamarados said, “It’s really amazing to see how my grandfather started this.”
Alex Kamarados added that he is “astonished” at the bakery’s legacy. Both men plan to pursue further education but wish to help at the bakery when possible.
Alex Kamarados recalled the fun of working night shifts with his brother and father. He said, “It’s nice knowing that the business just keeps going and going, and I want to see it last longer.”
Other family present at the ribbon-cutting were John and Rikki Kamarados’ cousins from Weirton, Helen and Dina Tsiftis and Connie Mastromichalis, as well as their aunt and uncle, F. John and Joyce Frangakis, who were visiting from Naples, Fla.
Helen Tsiftis said they would always come and patronize the store, adding, “Everything is excellent.”
The bakery itself, which has 14 employees, moved to a new retail space in the same building last year, Rikki Kamarados said, with the newly renovated space having new counters, wheelchair accessibility and an ornate, tiled tin ceiling.
Employees start baking at midnight, Rikki Kamarados said, and they do so even earlier around the holidays. Goods sold include cakes, pies, bread and cookies. The store opens at 5 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and closes at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The store’s biggest seller is doughnuts, Rikki Kamarados said, but people also love the smiley face, Hungarian and filled cookies. Also, the bakery sells wholesale, providing bread to Capri Sausage and Meatball, Naples Spaghetti House, Def Louie’s Sandwich Shop, Malta’s Pizza, Jax Pizza, Ray’s Pizza, Iggy’s Pizza and Leonardo’s Coffeehouse. It makes offering bread for various Greek churches and supports the Urban Mission Ministry with doughnuts and bread.
Inside the store, Chris Stanton worked at the counter, selling the baked goods. Stanton said she was retired but took up the job 18 months ago. Her favorite items are the cakes, which she buys for all her birthdays.
Stanton said the bakery seemingly has never lost business, even after the steel mills closed. She said mill workers used to come to the bakery each day and buy doughnuts before their shifts.
Toni Moreland, chairman of the chamber of commerce and State Farm insurance agent in Toronto, stopped into the store to buy some of her favorite glazed doughnuts, which she said she likes sharing. Moreland said she has been coming to Downtown Bakery since she was little, with her grandparents having purchased doughnuts from the store.
“It’s encouraging, as someone who’s trying to get started. It shows that, when you put your heart into things, you can tell that … it makes a difference. And I wish that people would start supporting more locally owned small businesses,” Moreland said about the anniversary.
First-time patron Stacy Skinner walked into the bakery and immediately remarked, “I’ve actually never been in here before, but it smells delicious.”
As the ceremony wrapped up, Rikki Kamarados said, “I encourage people to come and join us. We still try to keep our quality the same (and) keep the traditions alive.”
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