So Long, Vesecky’s! Berwyn Staple Closes after a Century of Noble Service

The facade of Veseckys Bakery, located on 6634 Cermak Road in Berwyn.
The facade of Vesecky’s Bakery, located on 6634 Cermak Road in Berwyn.
Scott Goodman

What was once Berwyn’s staple for Eastern European goodies is no more.

After 118 years of dedicated business serving the local community, Vesecky’s Bakery, located at 6634 Cermak Road in Berwyn, closed its doors on December 5th.   Cemented into the long history of the city, Vesecky’s has provided fresh daily baked goods for all customers flocking in from places all over the country. Every child’s Saturday destination back in the day has become those very children’s memories’ last stop today. It is safe to say the bakery will leave an unforgettable mark on the City od Berwyn: not only did the bakery impact the surrounding businesses and community, but the bakery impacted the hearts of many who called it home.

Vesecky’s Bakery wasn’t just your ordinary local bakery shop selling goods by the dozen. It wasn’t the type of bakery to assimilate into the ever-changing revolution of technology of the 1900’s and 2000’s. Rather, Vesecky’s remained true to its Eastern European roots: hand-crafted, oven-baked pastries, from the kitchen to the customer, for its entire existence.

Starting the business in Chicago in 1905, two Czechoslovakian immigrants, Bohemil and Anna Vesecky, started crafting homemade recipes from their homeland for customers in the city. At the time, the Chicagoland area was predominantly European, so it made sense to assimilate their cuisine into the culture of the city.

An October 21, 1993 issue of the Chicago Tribune, highlighting Vesecky’s Bakery on the cover. (Scott Goodman)

30 years later, the business relocated to Cermak Road, where since then has attracted thousands of visitors in Berwyn and the surrounding suburbs. Pastries such as Kolacky and Houska were favorites among the population and remained so up until its closing, where fourth-generation owner Nancy Vesecky oversaw its final days.

“It was very bittersweet,” Vesecky states. “We really felt bad because we know we created a lot of traditions for people, but we knew for our own sake it was time.”

“There’ll come a point where the things that you enjoy growing up no longer exist.” Scott Goodman, Vice President of the Morton 201 Foundation and Morton West Class of 1986 graduate, talks about the impact of the bakery. “Vesecky’s was always the place to go for Kolacky’s or Houska, and the fact that it was the last one of its kind, makes it harder and harder to find those pastries.”

Ken Rehor, a former Morton West graduate in the Class of 1982, reflects on the closing of the bakery. “I think so many people are mourning this loss. There’s really nothing left of the Czechs and the other Europeans in the area. Vesecky’s was kind of the holdout, and it’s really a marker of the end of an era.”

Being a vestige of Czechoslovakian culture, Vesecky’s transformed what it meant to keep tradition alive. Its century of service never once drifted from the very foundation that the third great-grandparents of Nancy Vesecky set forth for their bakery.

“It’s one of those things where the quality of the product that is coming out of that bakery is a combination of love and heritage and passed down family recipes,” Goodman states, “it wouldn’t be the same with different mixers and different technology in the back. Part of the reason the stuff is as good as it is is because it’s made old-school.”

Chris Alcorn, a Berwyn resident, spoke on a tradition involving Fat Tuesday, a Polish holiday in which Vesecky’s embraced for the flock of customers that sought out their delicious paczki.

Coffee cake displayed by the window on a cold morning, the day before closing. (Aidan Manjarrez)

“Back in the ’90s, Illinois State treasurer Judy Barr Topinka would go to Vesecky’s every Fat Tuesday and would purchase shirt boxes full of paczki and bring them to the treasurer staff,” Alcorn states. “They (Vesecky’s) were represented every year on Fat Tuesday at the State treasurer’s office, a tradition Judy continued until her passing.”

The week of closing brought more customers than ever before. All goods sold out in a matter of hours, with customers lining up at 6 a.m., battling the elements for first dibs on their desired bakery. The bakery uploaded a post on Monday morning, stating, “We are so grateful for all of you for your support throughout the many years.”

On Tuesday, the day of closing, the bakery was sold out by 9 a.m. Customers began lining up at 5 a.m., an hour before the bakery opened its doors at 6 a.m. Media coverage ventured into the bakery to capture its final hours, and their goodbyes were said to many of their loyal customers.

After retirement, Vesecky plans to take the time to reflect on the bakery and begin the next chapter in her life. “We just have to let the dust settle”, she states. “I don’t know what they’re gonna do to the bakery. Hopefully, another bakery will come and start making more traditional items, and you know, if they do, they’ll really make it good.”



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