The story of Ottenberg’s Bakery begins with the arrival of Isaac Ottenberg in America shortly after the Civil War. Isaac had trained as an apprentice baker in his hometown near Frankfurt, Germany. He had left his home, as millions of others had, to pursue opportunities in the new world. He settled in Washington, D.C., and started the business as a small bakeshop on Seventh Street, in the heart of Washington’s small but growing Jewish community. Isaac and his growing family lived upstairs above the bakery. The business sold rye breads, Kaiser rolls, bagels and pastry to people who lived in the neighborhood.
The bakery soon became the social center for the neighborhood. Soon after 1900, the bakery passed from father to son, as Joe took the reins of the business. All through the 1920’s. 30s, and 40’s, Ottenberg’s continued to produce the customary ethnic products that were the basis of its success. Delivery by horse and wagon was an innovation that helped the business grow during the roaring 20’s and survive through the great depression.
After World War II, the bakery changed dramatically to keep pace with the regions burgeoning economy. Washington and the surrounding area had grown explosively during the war. It had become the capital of the free world. Changing lifestyles were making meals away from home a growth industry. Demand for quality bread products had never been greater.
Joe’s son, Melvin, was back from the service with new ideas. He took over the business from his dad and quickly started taking concrete steps that would be the basis for the company’s long term success.
Melvin’s vision was to maintain the tradition of quality and service while greatly broadening the product line. The product line of European ethnic specialties expanded to include mainstream items like white and wheat breads, hamburger and hot dog rolls. The business kept expanding. Manufacturing was moved into two wholesale locations. The business kept expanding.Melvin started planning to move into a single, state of the art facility.
Melvin understood his customers and their changing needs. He developed a plan to make sure Ottenberg’s Bakery was ready to meet those needs. His untimely death denied him the chance to make this dream come true. His widow, Florence was determined to make Melvin’s vision a reality. She risked everything to build a new plant in North East Washington. The business kept expanding.
The sons of Melvin and Florence joined the business in the 70’s. The business began to focus exclusively on the needs of food service. New products and distribution through frozen food channels came out of this commitment to understand and meet the needs of food service.
The 21st Century has seen continued change to meet the needs of our customers. Ottenberg’s and its sister companies are leading suppliers to fast food, organic, all natural and specialty segments. Products and styles continue to change. The commitment of Ottenberg’s Bakery to understand its customers and find creative ways to deliver the value has never changed.
For over 140 years, through four generations, Ottenberg’s bakery has maintained its commitment to its customers.
We believe that it’s the way Issac would have wanted things done.
Mission of Ottenberg's
At Ottenberg Baking Company, we believe being a leader in business also means being a leader in sustainability. So we hold ourselves to the highest standards of social responsibility, sustainable business practices, and environmental stewardship.
Our use of resources is guided by four major principles:
Proactively manage solid waste by reducing, reusing, and recycling to conserve our natural resources.
Encourage environmental values and practices by our employees, vendors, and suppliers both at home and in the workplace.
Ensure accountability to laws, rules, regulations, internal policies and procedures through annual self-audit reports reviewed by the corporate office and ownership.
Maintain proactive involvement with local, state, and federal environmental authorities and industry-specific associations to assure our compliance with environmental standards. Also, help develop the business practices and compliance standards that will help the entire baking industry become more environmentally sensitive.
By adhering to these principles with our employees, business partners, suppliers, and customers, we will continue to increase efficiency, enhance value, and protect the environment.