In today’s economy, the success of a business is far from guaranteed. We honor local companies and institutions that have weathered the ups and downs through the years and are celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2012.
Lubeley’s Bakery & Deli, 75 years
When Lubeley’s Bakery & Deli opened, pies cost 20 cents. While the prices may have changed in the past 75 years, the bakery’s focus on high-quality, delicious products has not, says co-owner Helen Lubeley-Murray. “Our goals are still the same: to put out the best products possible, while keeping up with the trends. Everything is hands-on, hand-made from scratch.”
Ed and Helen Lubeley opened the bakery in 1937 at Kingshighway and Christy Boulevards in South City after both lost their jobs at other bakeries due to The Great Depression. While the couple earned just three dollars a week, they were able to build up the business before moving it to Maplewood in the '40s to take advantage of the busy shopping district. In 1954, Lubeley’s relocated again, to the new Yorkshire Plaza shopping center. Ed and Helen’s children, Robert Lubeley and Lubeley-Murray, took over the business in 1982 and moved the bakery to its present location on Watson Road in Marlborough. Ed passed away in 1992, but Helen, who recently turned 100, still frequently comes by the bakery to check on things. “A lot of people know her, and she loves saying hi to our customers,” Lubeley-Murray says.
The German-style, full-service bakery has thrived over the years as a family affair, offering everything from pastries and cookies to custom-decorated cakes. Another one of Ed and Helen’s children, Sue Lubeley-Suardi, works as the decorating manager, and Robert’s son, Ryan, just joined the bakery as an apprentice. The bakery has worked hard to keep the family traditions and recipes alive, Lubeley-Murray says. “Our parents worked very hard to build up the reputation, and we want to keep that going. It takes time and commitment, only walking out the door when you know things are complete and right. We’re very proud to mark 75 years.”
St. Louis Community College, 50 years
When St. Louis Community College (STLCC) opened registration for the first time in 1962, 700 students waited in line for hours to choose their classes. In the 50 years since, STLCC has served more than 1.2 million students across its four campuses and additional education centers. “We’ve been providing education for the community for 50 years, and also training the workforce,” says chancellor Myrtle Dorsey. “When I meet people in the community, they proudly tell me they went to St. Louis Community College; and if it wasn’t for the college, they wouldn’t be where they are today.”
The two-year college was born out of the establishment of the Junior College District of St. Louis in 1962. It was the first district in the nation to build three campuses simultaneously: Forest Park, Florissant Valley and Meramec (the Wildwood campus opened in 2007). With STLCC’s reach spreading out over 718 square miles through St. Louis City and County and parts of Jefferson and Franklin counties, in recent years the college has emphasized a ‘one college concept.’ “We want to stress that we’re all St. Louis Community College as a whole, and our first graduation as one college was very important,” Dorsey explains.
As STLCC enters its next 50 years, the school is focused on growing its educational programs and promoting the success of its students in a changing world, says Dorsey. “We have to be nimble and cutting-edge so our students are prepared for the ever-evolving workforce and economy. We want to stay ahead of the curve.”
Lashly & Baer, P.C., 100 years
With roots that trace back 100 years, the Lashly & Baer law firm has had a rich tradition of civic and political involvement in the community, says president Kenneth Brostron. “We’re proud that we’ve been involved in projects that have helped make the region strong.”
The mid-sized firm’s history begins with Jacob Lashly, a prominent trial lawyer in St. Louis and president of the American Bar Association. A couple years out of school, he joined a group of lawyers in 1912, working his way up to become leader of the firm. His son, John Lashly, joined him in the practice; and after Jacob passed away in 1967, John carried on the family name with the creation of the modern version of the firm. After several mergers, the firm became Lashly & Baer in the '80s, retaining the Lashly name even after John Lashly passed away in 1987.
While the practice began as a litigation firm, specializing in business and commercial litigation and anti-trust work, it also has taken on government entity consulting and planning, as well as health care. In the '70s, with John Lashly’s strong reputation preceding him, the firm was asked to represent the St. Louis School Board in the landmark school desegregation case. Lashly & Baer also was involved in the preservation and restoration of the McKinley Bridge. “It’s those types of efforts over the firm’s history that we’re proud of and has contributed to our longevity,” Brostron says.
Lashly & Baer is the only law firm where Brostron has been employed, starting as a law clerk in 1972, and he looks to pass on his appreciation of its legacy. “I want to impart the professionalism and historical perspective of this firm onto everyone coming behind me and keep that going for the future.”
Hank’s Cheesecakes, 25 years
A successful cheesecake business was born in a small apartment in the Central West End in 1983. Hank Krussel’s childhood love of cheesecake was enhanced during his time in the army when a friend shared a recipe with him. After returning to St. Louis, he began baking the indulgent desserts for friends and family members, playing around with recipes and flavors. “I remember when I was a teenager and any time we had a family event, there would be lots of cheesecakes. Some flavors came together quickly; others would take a year to perfect—Hank’s a bit of a perfectionist,” says Anne Krussel, who has worked for her uncle for the past 15 years.
Hank’s reputation spread, and restaurants began buying his cheesecakes. Needing more space to bake, he opened Hank’s Cheesecakes in a small bakery on Big Bend in 1987. In that location, the oven held 21 cakes at a time. As the business grew, space again became an issue, and the bakery moved to its current location, still on Big Bend, in 1992, where the oven held 80 cakes, before being replaced with one that now holds 128. With more than three dozen flavors available, as well as savory cheesecakes and non-cheesecake items like chocolate and carrot cakes, the bakery’s products are very much in-demand. “We try to use the best quality ingredients and perfect our recipes,” Krussel says. “People just keep coming back for them.”
Hank still is at the bakery on a daily basis, overseeing the process. With no plans to franchise or go national with Hank’s Cheesecakes, Krussel says they are happy to remain a small company supporting the community. “We are family here, and it’s nice to come to work everyday enjoying what you do.”
Other companies celebrating a milestone anniversary this year include:
SSM Health Care, 140 years
Sunset Auto, 100 years
Medart, Inc., 100 years
Bissinger’s, 85 years
Rubin, Brown, Gordstein & Co., 60 years
Artmart, 60 years
Wireless USA, 50 years
Blueberry Hill, 40 years
Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge, 20 years
Pomme Restaurant, 10 years