WATERTOWN — The Alberry family closed Mr. Rick’s Bakery on Friday after 11 years of serving smiling customers fresh-baked bread, rolls, bagels, donuts, cakes and other sweets.
Growing health issues prompted Paul G. Alberry to step away from the bakery and into retirement, and his son and co-owner, Paul Geremy Alberry, said managing the operation, which delivered baked goods across the north country, without his father and mother, Frances M., would be too difficult. Other businesses incorporating their own bakeries and burgeoning expenses also posed challenges for the family.
The bakery, 17099 Route 11, sat on the market for two years at an undisclosed price, but Mr. Alberry, a veteran and retired Watertown city police officer, said no one offered to purchase it.
“We’re a standalone bakery. It’s a dying breed,” Mr. Alberry said. “I already miss the customers. I spent my life in public service.”
The family taped a paper sign to the door reading “Permanently closed: thank you for your patronage and friendship, we will miss you,” and published a farewell message on Facebook.
Mr. Alberry said he plans to sell the equipment at auction but was uncertain about what will happen to the building until receiving input from the bank that helped finance his purchase.
The bakery employed 12 workers before shuttering, including family, and Mr. Alberry said informing them of the closure was “the toughest part.”
“(I liked) being able to come into work and hide from everything else. I used to bury myself in work,” Paul Geremy Alberry said. “(My father) built this business, and I wish I could keep it going for him.”
Mr. and Mrs. Alberry bought Mr. Rick’s Bakery from Rick Balch in 2001. They relocated it from its previous home on Mill Street to the 3,700-square-foot former Butler Fence Co. building in 2015.
Mr. Balch, who managed the bakery for nine years, stopped by Tuesday morning to help them deal with supplies and provide emotional support. He saw a silver lining in the closure.
“I watched these guys struggle working themselves into the ground, so I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “Small businesses are tough in New York.”
Mr. Rick’s Bakery sold products to customers as far north as Massena, as far south as Pulaski and as far east as Boonville. Commercial clients included Lewis County General Hospital, Jefferson Community College, New York Air Brake, the Martin’s Country Store chain, River Valley Inn, Gal’s Place and more.
“I just want to thank all of our customers for being loyal customers to us all these years,” Mr. Alberry said.