By CAROLYN RAEKE - News Staff Reporter
Freddie's Doughnuts closed permanently Tuesday, leaving a hole in the Buffalo bakery business.
For more than half a century, Freddie's was a fixture on Main Street, a place where people could pick up assorted doughnuts on the way to work, after a hockey game or on the way home at night.
But Tuesday, Frederick "Freddie" Maier, 82, posted a sign at 1655 Main St. announcing the last day of the family-operated business. People who stopped in left with as many doughnuts as they could carry.
"Once they found out, they wanted to buy more and put them in their freezers," said Pat Maier, wife of Frederick Maier Jr., the corporation's vice president.
"There wasn't a doughnut left. They didn't care, as long as it was a doughnut. We gave away boxes with our pictures on it. We had to close early because we ran out of dough nuts. We closed at 4:30. We were going to stay open till 10."
She estimated they had sold at least 300 dozen and as many as 500 dozen.
Obviously, the Maiers -- Freddie, Frederick Jr. and his wife, and Richard, the corporation secretary, and his wife, Barbara -- could have sold many more.
But when they made up their minds recently that "it was time to retire," Mrs. Maier said, they decided that when the last bag of flour from their North Carolina mill was gone, the doors would close for good.
"We were thinking about doing this for a long time," she said. "A couple weeks ago, we told our employees. We decided our last bag of flour was going to be the day we closed. We knew yesterday."
The business employed 12 workers when it closed. Freddie Maier, a native of the Ukraine, left there when he was about 8 to live with his large family in Canada.
He had his first job in Lansing, Mich., where his family moved after two years in Canada. It was in a bakery, wrapping bread for $1.25 a week.
By the time he was 18, he had moved to Buffalo to make his fortune, opening his first bakery here in 1924 and moving to his Main Street location in 1935.
His success was so complete that by 1964, it was estimated that Western New Yorkers were dunking 25 million of Freddie's assorted doughnuts each year.
He briefly considered moving the doughnut operation to Tonawanda in the early 1980s but abandoned that idea and has since sold the property he planned to use there.
The store was once open 24 hours a day, but in recent years has opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 11:30 p.m.
"My husband's been getting up at 2:30 every morning since we've been married, 25 years," Mrs. Maier said. "We'd been there till 11 o'clock at night. They start at 2 every morning, and it's seven days a week.
We decided as long as we're still healthy, we should take a few vacations." .
The property will remain in the family. "We didn't want to sell the Freddie's Doughnuts name," Mrs. Maier said. "We're not even selling the building. We're not interested in selling it."
She said Freddie Maier was "in and out all day" Tuesday, but Richard and Barbara weren't able to come in for the last day because they were snowed in.
"I had no idea people were going to be so upset about this," Mrs. Maier said. "We did have our real faithful customers that came daily. Basically we have very devoted customers, but we have a lot of competition now.
It will be a real adjustment for all of us." .

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