“We actually started on Union Avenue,” said Amanda Taylor, standing behind the counter at Zoelsmann’s Bakery & Delicatessen in Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously operated businesses in Colorado, “but a little later we loaded all of the equipment on horse-drawn wagons and moved up here to Abriendo. This was the first building on Abriendo — it was just open then. As the neighborhood grew, we expanded the bakery.”
Zoelsmann’s was founded in 1898. Taylor’s parents, Tom and Mary Provost, bought the bakery seven years ago.
“I grew up with the bakery,” said Taylor. “My parents had a dairy farm in Avondale, and we supplied Zoelsmann’s with goat cheese. I started working at the bakery when I was in fifth grade, cracking olives. … You do it with a Coke bottle. You hit them just hard enough to open them, then soak and marinate, then put ’em out for sale.”
Zoelsmann’s baked goods are distributed to hotels and businesses, but retail customers are its primary sales source.
“We bake every night at 10 p.m.,” Taylor said, “and then we open the doors in the morning and wait for the walk-ins. We bake 90 to 150 loaves every day, and we have pies, cinnamon rolls and other baked goods, besides deli meats.”
Their best customer?
That would be Pueblo’s historic tavern, Gus’s Place, which was profiled in the March 17 edition of the Business Journal.
“We’ve supplied them since they opened in the 1930s,” said Taylor. “We both depended on the same customers, the steelworkers. All of the houses along our street used to house workers at the mill, which was in easy walking distance in those days.
“Originally, there were little stores scattered throughout the neighborhood — bars, grocery stores, butchers, delis. Those mom-and-pop stores are gone — now it’s all King Soopers and Walmart.”
Zoelsmann’s relies on word of mouth and history to promote its products, which are decidedly old-fashioned in appearance, taste and price.
“My favorites are the cherry-centered cinnamon buns,” Taylor told a customer, who bought a package of six enormous buns for $5.
“It all happens down in the basement, where the ovens are,” said Taylor. “Originally, it was just this little cottage, but we had to have more room, so we built out and down. We still have one of the original ovens, and it’s still in use. It’s French-style, like a pizza oven, curved.”
Currently, there are no other businesses on the block. City signs remind visitors and residents that parking in front of Zoelsmann’s is limited to 30 minutes.
“It’s so strange, that we’re the only business on both sides of the block — but we stay busy,” said Taylor. “You’ll get the best selection a 8 a.m., right after we open.”