Aside from tasting good, perhaps the most important quality of a comfort food is its familiarity.
Although other Saugerties bakeries undoubtedly put out some great goods, the loss of Lachmann’s Pastries in 1999 after a 60-year presence on Main Street left a gaping hole in the town’s palette. Until this year, when Drew and Bridgette Pineiro set up shop in Barclay Heights to revitalize Ralph Lachmann’s previously retired recipes. The pair met in 1988, when they were in their early 20s — after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Drew baked at Lachmann’s. Bridgette’s sister, who served as a cashier there, introduced the two when the bakery’s employees formed a volleyball team.
Their bakery, called “The Meltaway” as a tribute to one of the previous bakery’s most beloved menu items, has been reinvigorating the local sweet-tooth scene since July of last year. It’s located at 3215 Route 9W.
“We love to listen to people’s stories and I think it’s definitely a family-type vibe when people come in, a lot like Lachmann’s,” said Bridgette. “It’s nice to know that everyone that comes in here is happy. Everyone here is here to get something they remembered, that they knew.”
Every Thursday through Sunday, Drew wakes up at 1 a.m. and ferries all the ingredients to make that day’s batch of sweets — the 600-square-foot building can only accommodate the ingredients that will be used that day. By 5 a.m. the coffee cakes and danishes are done, and Bridgette arranges them on the racks before driving to her day job; by 6 a.m., they’ve been iced. By 4 p.m., the bakery’s stock has typically dwindled significantly — perennial visitors know to pick up their orders early.
“[The opening of The Meltaway bakery] was like bringing life back into this town,” said Kenna Sullivan, who was employed at Lachmann’s when she first came to Saugerties in the ‘80s. “I’ve lived here for 30 years, and my biggest regret for my grandkids was that they didn’t get to experience it. Drew is taking these recipes all back. The Lachmann’s were wonderful people — they employed the local high school kids. You would go in there and it was for everybody — your kid or grand kid worked there, you’d see everyone around town and if you had a question they’d always help you. And that smell. It was something for everybody, and that’s what Drew has brought back.”
Three generations of the Lachmann family, which originally hailed from Wuppertal Germany, manned their pastry shop at the current site of the Hudson Valley Dessert Company. Along with German pastries like spekulatius cookies (a German Christmas staple) and fasnachts (fried doughnuts), the spot was known for their pull-apart bread and crumb cakes. A sign depicting a baker with “Ralph” embroidered onto his white hat and a speech bubble declaring, “Get your special cakes from me!” hung outside the store; locals say that long lines queued outside during the holidays, much like the surprisingly large groups that amass to pick up Meltaway baked goods.
The Pineiros have brought back the Lachmann’s danish-like meltaway cups with a filling reminiscent of Yorkshire pudding and “butter buns” (table roll-looking sweet dough pastries filled with coffee cake buttercream), along with a long list of other items that were once put out by the original bakery — cannoli, eclairs, black and white cookies, Napoleons and butter cookies. Each day, about 30 different baked goods are available.
“I can still picture [how the inside of Lachmann’s] looked,” said Village Historian Marjorie Block, who spent quite a bit of time there before and after school as a child. “You would walk in and see all the rolls and bread in shelves behind the counter, cakes in the cases with cupcakes stacked high with the best frosting. We lost a lot when Lachmann’s closed, every kid in Saugerties was sad. Every time I go wait in line [at The Meltaway] the memories come flooding back.”
“A lot of [what makes The Meltaway so successful] is Drew and Bridgette,” said Jay Misasi of Kingston, who worked with Drew when he baked at Marist College in the early 2000s, and is now a weekly Meltaway customer. “They’re just great people and it’s good. The location is perfect, their personalities are perfect and they have a really, really good product. You couldn’t find nicer people.”
The Pineiros said that due to their quick success, they plan to relocate to a larger building in the near future. Orders can be placed via telephone at (845) 247-3944, or on their Facebook page.