This article, written by Philip A. Vanno, originally appeared in the November 13, 2015 edition of the Utica Observer Dispatch (News, 3A).
YORKVILLE – Looming large over the new crop of locally owned bakeries that have popped up recently and ushered in a resurgence in the consumption of artisan breads and baked goods are the heads of two giant cows on Oriskany Boulevard.
For the past 60 years, Holland Farms Bakery & Deli has been one of the area’s standard-bearers of homemade baked goods, spawning a dedicated legion of followers that flock to the village business on any given day in search of its famous jelly buns, half moons, coffee and tomato pie.
With new businesses such as Utica Bread and Bite Bakery and Café in Utica and Wicked Sweets in Yorkville joining the fray looking to put their mark on the area, Holland Farms co owner Marolyn Wilson said her business faces the future head on, armed with consistency, brand loyalty and family.
“The optimism in the Mohawk Valley is up 90 percent, and everyone is feeling good about the area,” Wilson said. “But you have to be willing to put the money in. We make everything from scratch and have become a destination for those who want a fresh product. That’s what differentiates us.”
While Cupcake’s and Chuckie’s bovine mugs have graced the establishment’s billboard since it opened in 1966 at its current location, Wilson’s father, John Piersma, established the business as Holland Farms Dairy Bar and Bakery in 1955 on the boulevard near the intersection of Main Street in New York Mills.
A second Holland Farms Bakery operated for a time during the late 1970sandearly 1980s at the current site of the Clinton Post Office, at about which time Wilson and her sister Suzanne Harrington took over the Yorkville operation and initiated more features such as freshly made deli items and a drive-thru window.
The family tradition continues with the recent addition of Harrington’s daughter Heather Portzeba as a co-owner, who plans to bring some of her own ideas into the fold eventually.
“I grew up working in the store while going to school,” Portzeba said. “But you really don’t get a true appreciation for how busy and complex the bakery and deli business can be until you’re here for the day-to-day operations. I have a new regard for the business and my mother and aunt (and) I’m grateful and excited to be apart of (it).”
Ron Topor has been along for the entire ride since Holland Farms took over its current site from the old Sal’s Barbecue. The 75-year-old Whitesboro man said he comes into the bakery and deli at least three times a week to buy everything from potato salad to doughnuts.
“I love the variety,” Topor said. “I can stop in here and walk out with a bunch of different things, and it’s all fresh and delicious. That’s a very unique thing.”