Monday, February 16, 2009
Over the past weeks, we have attempted to get to know the sites in Nicetown-Tioga, from the smallest shops to the major neighborhood institutions. There is no more prominent or recognizable name in Nicetown-Tioga than the Tasty Baking Company, better known as Tastykake.
Located near the intersection of West Hunting Park Avenue and Fox Street on the edge of Nicetown, the bakery has been a staple of the area since it opened in 1922. What began as a small business that earned $300,000 in 1914 has grown into a $250 million a year operation and a household name in Philadelphia.
As announced in May 2007, the company will relocate from its North Philly neighborhood to a 25-acre tax-free (until 2018) site in the Navy Yard. The company will move into its new “state-of-the-art” bakery, warehouse, distribution center and “green corporate headquarters,” all built with the help of state and private loans totaling $32 million.
The company will move out of its corporate office in Nicetown by the end of April and begin shifting baking operations to its new facility beginning at the end of this year until mid-2010, according to Heidi Gizaw, Tastykake Supply Chain Project Engineer Manager.
But the old Tastykake buildings won’t join the multitude of abandoned factories and other structures in the neighborhood. “We are planning on selling these two properties together, to an interested party,” says Gizaw, noting that Tastykake is working with a “corporate/industrial realtor” to find a buyer.
When asked how locals felt about the move, Gizaw says that they are happy to see Tastykake remain Philly-based, even if that base is no longer in Nicetown. “It was essential to us as a company to remain true to our history and stay a Philadelphia brand even though there were several options outside of the city that would have been less expense from several different business perspectives,” she said.
The company planned the move and the increases in automation with accompanying job cuts based on the “natural attrition” of longtime employees, many of whom are now reaching retirement age. But for employees who aren’t retiring, the added commute “is a concern,” she said.
In any case, by mid-2010, Nicetown will bid adieu to one of its most famous companies, a bedrock of the community for the past 87 years.
Tim Bratton, Trisha Fleurimond, Todd Miller
Posted by Tim Bratton at 6:44 PM