MACEDONIA — Caroline and Heidi Reinecker remember the attention their sandwiches would attract when they were children.
"Growing up in school, pack a lunch, everybody would wonder why our bread looked so weird ...," said Caroline.
"We had round brown bread instead of square white bread," said Heidi.
"‘What are you eating?’" other kids would ask. "‘Bread, a sandwich,’" would be a reply.
Today, the sisters and their brother Rick are the second generation to run the family business that produced that bread, and Reinecker’s Bakery and Party Center marks its 60th anniversary this year. It’s been at its current location at 8575 South Freeway Drive for the last 47 years.
While the party center only dates to 1978, it had plenty of room for a get together of family, friends, employees, business associates and long-time customers on Aug. 18.
"We had somewhere between 300 and 400 people," said Caroline.
The company’s origins date back to before its founding in Cleveland in 1959, across an ocean and based on several centuries of tradition.
Patriarch Richard J. Reinecker Sr.’s family in Germany were traditionally butchers, but he apprenticed as a baker instead, eventually becoming a master baker -- baeckermeister in German.
He emigrated to the United States, bringing 300-year-old recipes to start his business with in the late 1950s.
Heidi said some of the recipes came from the man her father apprenticed with, "and some recipes, he came up with over the years."
Reinecker Sr. started his bakery at the corner of East 82nd Street and Sowinski Avenue in Cleveland in 1959, which he would operate until moving to Macedonia in February 1972.
Richard’s wife Magdalena would find out early on how devoted he was to the business.
"When she married Dad, she became involved," said Caroline. "Actually, when they were dating, they used to go on dates when he would deliver bread while they were on dates. She would ride in the delivery truck with him."
This involvement then expanded after their marriage.
"She would make tort cakes and anything else that were needed," said Caroline. "And when they started the catering, the party center, she would do the cooking."
For the first six years after moving to Macedonia, the front of the building they built sat empty, even as the bakery operated in back. It was planned originally as a store, but due to the area being zoned for industrial use, the city would not allow retail there.
"We used to ride our bikes through here," said Caroline while sitting at a table in the 160-person capacity space.
"Or roller skate," added Heidi.
That ended when the Reinecker’s found a use for the space that was considered acceptable in 1978 and the party center still operates today.
The Reinecker siblings have long been involved themselves in the business, doing chores there as children and working there in the 1980s before officially taking over in 1994. Their father died in 2005 and their mother in 2013.
"It’s what we’ve always done," said Caroline.
The Reinecker’s have a division of labor, in general, with Richard in charge of bakery production, Caroline cooking for the party center and Heidi handling the business functions.
But they don’t strictly adhere to those roles.
"We all have our own individual jobs for certain operational things, but other than that, production wise, we all work together," said Heidi.
"We kind of do anything and everything that has to be done when it has to be done," said Caroline.
Today the bakery has a reach around the region and even the nation.
It provides baked goods to a number of stores, including Giant Eagle in Northfield Center and Twinsburg, Heinens in Aurora, Hudson, and Twinsburg; Mazzulo’s in Aurora, Krieger’s in Cuyahoga Falls, Peppers Farmers Market in Northfield Village, and Kibbies Meats in Stow. A complete list of outlets can be found at https://reineckersbakery.com/index.html.
They also provide baked items to a few stores in Kentucky and Virginia, but Caroline said most of the out-of-state business is to consumers through Reinecker’s website.
Items include a wide variety of cakes, breads and pastries, plus the occasional special order item, such as wedding and birthday cakes.
"Nut rolls and poppy seed rolls are probably two of our biggest items," said Caroline.
Caroline and Heidi said that the long-term future of Reinecker’s is a question mark since there are not any current succession plans.
"There is no third generation," said Heidi. "We think about it, but we have never really discussed it. We’re not ready to discuss that."
When asked what they attribute Reinecker’s longevity to, Caroline said "dedication" and Heidi said "hard work."
"Working with your family is like working with anyone else," said Heidi. "The only difference is at the end of the day, we all have the same exact common goal whereas when you work with other people, you don’t always necessarily have that exact same common goal."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.