For more than 30 years from the late 1930s to the late 1960s, if you needed a special occasion cake or fresh bread delivered to your home, Allen's Bakery was the place to provide it.
Moving from Bridgeport, Ind., to the Warren area, Maxwell A. Allen started his bakery delivery service in 1937. Driving a converted hearse, he brought his baked goods door to door.
The original bakery was located on Pine Avenue next to George Vaneris' restaurant. It grew rapidly, and in 1943 moved to a larger location, 2500 Mahoning Ave. This site eventually housed not only a retail store and bakery, but administrative offices and a garage for the delivery trucks, plus a mechanic to keep them running.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Carmela Carbone Cerimele and Toni Carbone Mancino, employees of Allen’s Bakery, show off the bakery’s ovens to family members. Allen’s Bakery was open from the late 1930s to the late 1960s and delivered fresh baked goods to Mahoning Valley residents.
"Allen's Bakery was one of the largest individually owned bakeries in the tri-state area," said Carmela Cerimele of Howland.
After her father passed away and money was tight for her widowed mother and siblings, a teenaged Cerimele began working at Allen's Bakery, first at the bakery and then at the retail store.
A year later, she became Allen's bookkeeper. This was a position that she held for 14 years. Her job required a lot of responsibility at a young age.
"There was an odd looking safe with an open side on my side of the wall," Cerimele said. "The drivers would put their money and their paperwork in the slot in the morning. I would open the safe and take it all out and figure out that deposit. At the end of the week on Saturday, I would check them in for the week. Whatever they hadn't paid day by day, they owed it right then. They kept a book. Some people paid cash and some people charged."
She also did the payroll for approximately 100 employees.
In the beginning, Allen's Bakery had five or six routes. It expanded to 33 throughout Trumbull County by the time it closed.
Cerimele said the delivery van had doors in the back with shelves on either side for baked goods and bread. There were also four drawers that were as long as the van was deep, full of bakery items.
The bakery made donuts, cream sticks, cookies and cakes, which included Cerimele's wedding cake. She recalled the bakery had a very good decorator.
Despite the smells of fresh baked goods, Cerimele said she wasn't tempted to sample the pastries.
"I never ate the doughnuts and stuff. It never appealed to me," she said.
Today, she looks at fresh baked goods differently.
"To be able to get a glazed donut, warm right off the rack, oh, it would be seventh heaven," she said. "At that time, when you're around it all the time, it doesn't appeal to you."
Toni Mancino, who joined her sister, Carmela at Allen's Bakery as a bookkeeper had a much different opinion of the pastries. To her, they were a delight to her senses.
"When you first start, everything smells so good," she said. "At first, I used to eat chocolate chip cookies while they were warm. They were my downfall."
She said that after smelling the goodies regularly she learned to resist temptation and grew tired of the smell.
Her wedding cake was also made at the bakery.
Mancino also began working at the bakery at 15 years old, but she already knew the Allens because she babysat their children.
"I went to school in the morning, I left early and then I went to work," said Mancino. "I didn't have too much responsibility right then."
Though the bakery was open six days a week, there were times when the business needed an extra day and additional help to prepare for busy seasons.
"Some Sundays during Christmas, we'd help with the baking," Mancino said. "We helped putting them in and out of an oven or wrapping them."
Both Cerimele and Mancino said that Allen's Bakery was a good place to work because they enjoyed their jobs and their co-workers company.
Cerimele recalled being treated well by the owners and receiving bonuses due to a job well done and by her co-workers.
"I had to check in all the route men," Cerimele said. "Those guys were so respectful. They wouldn't even swear in front of me. They were all nice men. They had to be to be going to the homes. They couldn't just hire anybody."
As the years went by, home delivered bread and baked goods were no longer in demand because grocery stores began to have their own bakery departments. Customers were now able to buy all their groceries, including bread and pastries, in one location.
After a long illness, Maxwell Allen passed away in 1970 and Allen's Bakery closed. But, for many county residents, the fond memories of baked goods delivered to their door from Allen's Bakery remain fresh.