When they opened in 1953 Lester and Cele Kirschbaum didn’t know their little shop would last for generations. Nor did they know the impact their sweet treats and specialty breads would have on the residents of Suburban Chicago. Every Kirschbaum has encountered people across the country, from South Carolina to Arizona, who recite their favorite memory of the store or describe in detail their favorite bakery treat. It has etched a place in the hearts and taste buds of those who have experienced their sweet and buttery flavors.
Spending their first year of business as a Bakery and Deli on Hillgrove Avenue in LaGrange IL, Cele made potato salads and cole slaw from scratch, while Lester baked goods and stocked the store; their son Bob did his part by running the register. By November of 1954 Kirschbaum’s Bakery was born at its current location at 825 Burlington Avenue in Western Springs IL., serving only baked goods. Around 1960 Lester expanded the back of the building to include space for two large walk-in coolers and a garage. (Cele and Lester even lived above the bakery from 1954 until 1999, making it convenient to work the demanding bakers hours.)
After returning from 3 years of Army Service in August of 1962, Bob completed the Dunwoody Baking Program in Minneapolis MN. It was apparent the bakery was thriving and he wanted to contribute to his parents’ business. Over the years, he and Lester became the primary cake decorators, while managing the bakers in the back of the shop, as well as creating specialty items. Cele managed the front of the shop by supervising the clerks and finances, and still found time to create some of her very own specialties, including the famous Chocolate Lover’s Delight cake.
Bob’s wife, Charlene started helping out with the business in 1980 and continued until 2003 when she retired.
Over the last two decades, each of Bob and Char’s children has contributed in one way or another to the family business.
In 1988, Bob and Char’s eldest son Mike joined the bakery full-time after attending college; he was the start of a third Kirschbaum generation. Mike’s primary role was to bake and decorate cakes, and create the popular Kirschbaum’s peanut brittle. He met his wife Penny through the bakery, who started as a clerk in the front of the store, with a background in accounting.
Keith, Bob and Char’s other son, contributed to the family business as well. From 1998-2005 his primary role was dough production and baking. Keith’s wife, Jenni also helped out as a clerk.
All three of Bob and Char’s daughters, Christine, Marla and Corine worked as clerks in the front of the store, mostly through their high school and college years.
Today, the Kirschbaum legacy continues with Penny and Mike running the shop. Lester and Cele have since passed away, while Bob and Char have both retired. Mike and Penny’s eldest son, Steve has started full-time as a fourth generation Kirschbaum; his current role is icing and finishing the famous Kirschbaum’s cakes and learning the various tools of the trade.
Kirschbaum’s has kept tradition alive since 1953, but has also introduced some new delectable items for their customers to enjoy.
The Kirschbaum’s thank you for your loyalty and patronage throughout the years, and look forward to serving you many, many more.