Neldam’s Danish Bakery at 3401 Telegraph Avenue was a beloved Oakland institution from 1929 to 2010.
Customers were very local, and continued to come to Neldam's even after moving away. Everyone had their favorites, including: bear claws, butterhorns, strawberry cake, chocolate dream of cream cake, marble pound cake, raspberry rum cakes, princess torte (prinsesstårta), Danish/Norwegian wedding cake (kransekake), or numerous varieties of cookies.
The bakery employed as many as 75 people in the 1970s. Much of its revenue came from catering to large companies like Clorox and Kaiser. 1 It was forced to close its storefront in 2010, after nearly 82 years. The long-term employees of the bakery formed an employee co-op and reopened as A Taste of Denmark.
Neldam's was opened in 1929 at 3421 Telegraph Avenue by Danish emigrant Aksel George Neldam (March 5, 1901 – October 10, 1969) and his wife Rosalia Marie Knudsen (Neldam) (September 20, 1904 – May 8, 1988). Over the years, three different generations of Neldams worked in the bakery, including:
- Aksel George Neldam - 1929 until 1968
Rosalia Marie Neldam - 1929 until ?
- Phyllis Bobbette Neldam (Lucas) (April 30, 1929 – 2013)
Jack George Neldam (December 26, 1932 – February 18, 2011) - c.1963
- his son Mark Neldam
Milo Gordon Neldam (May 18, 1931 – April 11, 2011) - c. 1965 until 1988
- his son Rod Neldam - until c.1988; opened Grateful Bread in Seattle in 1996)
- Eleunore Neldam (Twomey) (September 12, 1934 – February 20, 1987)
At some point in the early 1960s (probably 1962 or 1963), the bakery moved from 3421 to 3401 Telegraph on the corner.
c.1963, there was also a Neldam's in Rheem Valley near Moraga.
In 1965, the Neldams took a cake decorated with a traffic light and the words "34th and Telegraph" to city council member Paul Brom, as a reminder that they wanted a traffic light installed at their corner. 2
The Neldam's added a coffee shop serving breakfast and lunch in 1974.
In 2008, the Neldams sold the building to try to cover rising costs and reduced business 1, but in 2010 they closed up. The new building owners worked with some of the long-time employees to re-open the bakery as an employee co-operative called A Taste of Denmark.
Links and References
Two Bakeries and Half a Police Force ORPN.org
Newhouse: Call for help in saving two institutions Mercury News
Still as sweet, after 75 years / Neldam's bakery in Oakland has kept pastry fans smiling since '29 SFGate.com February 27, 2004
Neldam's Danish Bakery in Oakland turns 80 Oakland Tribune February 25, 2009