Halepaska’s Bakery, a Victoria favorite since 1953, is closing for good, owner Tom Halepaska posted on his bakery’s Facebook page Sunday.
“I am sorry to say, but yes we are closed permanently,” the post read. “It was a very hard decision. We will miss all of (our) customers.”
The bakery first closed in March 28 during the pandemic. Owner Tom Halepaska said his plan then was to reopen when health authorities and conditions allow.
For Dani Longoria-Burnett, the loss of the bakery will forever change the experience of coming back home. She’s one of hundreds of people who responded to the announcement of the bakery’s closure on Facebook with a memory of the special role it’s had in her life.
Now a resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Longoria-Burnett was raised in Pettus and has been eating treats from Halepaska’s Bakery since she was 7 years old.
She said the first place she had one of Halepaska’s baked goods was at the home of friend’s grandmother, who would buy the girls petit fours on her trips to Victoria.
“She served them with milk in a fancy glass and we thought we were incredibly special,” Longoria-Burnett said.
Later in life, after her father moved to Victoria, Longoria-Burnett said she rediscovered the bakery and began buying its confections during her trips home.
“As an adult, I literally order a cake a month before I arrive to make sure I get what I want,” said Longoria-Burnett, who was particular fond of the bakery’s Italian Cream Cake.
Beyond the special place it has in many Victorians’ personal histories, Halepaska’s bakery also has significance in the history of the city at-large.
The bakery was founded by Halepaska’s mother, Ann Halepaska, in the 1950s.
She was born in Wadsworth and was raised by nuns at Nazareth Academy after her mother died of the Spanish flu in 1918. Halepaska was only 4 years old.
Her lifelong involvement with the Catholic Church is what ultimately led her to a career in baking.
For school functions and other charitable events, she was constantly asked to donate baked goods.
“I decided that as long as I was donating, I would make the prettiest cake I could,” she said in a 1986 interview. “I taught myself how to decorate, though I did take a short course in cake decorating.
In her business’ early days, Ann Halepaska ran the bakery from her home.
In 1972, newlyweds Tom and Barbara Halepaska, only in their early 20s, started working at the bakery’s former location on Rio Grande Street.
Although the bakery’s doors closed because of business restrictions due to COVID-19, Tom Halepaska said the decision to close the bakery ultimately came down to his and his wife’s wish to retire.
“We’ve lived, eaten and breathed this business for a little less than half a century,” Halepaska said. In that time, he said the bakery has endured many disasters, “even a pandemic didn’t stop us, just age did.”
Halepaska said among his favorite experiences of being a bakery owner was the opportunity to provide many young Victorians with their first work experience.
“A lot of the kids came through working part time to make a nickel, or buy a prom dress,” he said. “So many of those kids went on to do bigger and better things.”
Halepaska said he isn’t sure yet what he’ll do in retirement.
Last year, he ended his tenure on Victoria City Council. He was a member since 2004, as a representative for Super District 6 on the council. He served five consecutive three-year terms.
Halepaska said he’s still considering his options for what he’ll do with his business, which was annually voted as the Crossroads’ best bakery by Victoria Advocate readers.
If he doesn’t sell the bakery, Halepaska said he’ll probably publish a recipe book with longtime customers’ favorite treats.
Former Victoria resident Janeil McCrury said she would purchase such a book. She said she’s never had a sugar cookie that compares to the ones she used to buy from Halepaska’s.
“It was the place to get anything special,” she said. “Every kid’s birthday cake came from Halepaska’s.”
If Halepaska’s Bakery doesn’t reopen, Longoria-Burnett said she’d be dismayed.
“It’s like a death,” she said. “I hope they understand the impact they’ve made.”
Three new cases of COVID-19 were announced Sunday in Calhoun County, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 29.
County Judge Richard Meyer announced the new cases Sunday in a new release posted to the Facebook page for the county’s office of emergency management.
Including new cases, the county’s total number of active cases is now 12. No new recoveries were announced Sunday, leaving the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease at 15.
Two county residents have died of COVID-19.
The county remains under curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. until further notice. County officials are encouraging residents to wear a mask while out in public and to limit the number of household members who leave the house for essential activities.
Two children under the age of 5 have tested positive for COVID-19 in Matagorda County, officials reported Sunday.
The new cases bring the total in Matagorda County to 63. Of those 63 cases, 26 have recovered, three are deceased and 34 are active.
“The cases added today, April 26th, are not related to tests conducted during Matagorda County’s drive-up test initiative,” the Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center announced in a news release. “We expect initial drive-up test results to be available as early as Tuesday, with all results being reported by Friday, May 1st. These numbers will be combined and included in daily totals just like all test site information in Matagorda County is combined and reported.”
Officials also reported that the counts from the Palacios Community Medical Center have not changed: they continue to report 10 negative cases with two results pending.
Source: Thanks https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/covid-19/halepaskas-bakery-closes-doors-permanently/article_ad2cdc2c-87d6-11ea-a03c-8bf63a685e45.html