Memory Lane



Cerny's Bakery

In a time before low-carb diets became all the rage, there was Cerny’s Bakery on Smithtown Avenue in Bohemia, which was named after its founder, Joseph Cerny.  Born in Revnecov [Revnicov] in the Bohemia region of what is now the Czech Republic, and trained as a baker in Prague, he immigrated to the United States when he was 18 years old.(1) Before moving to Bohemia, New York, he and his family lived in Winfield, Queens, where he also owned a bakery. In the early 1930s, Suffolk County News reported that his store on Smithtown Avenue in Bohemia was managed by William Zoha, and sold products baked in the Winfield establishment, but soon after he began leasing a building in Patchogue and was baking and delivering orders to local customers. (2)

By the mid-1930s, the bakery on Smithtown Avenue was in full operation and was praised in the newspaper for having “established itself as one of the most invaluable factors in the general life of the region.  Bread, rolls, pies, cakes and pastry are featured in the complement of the shop which has established much of its reputation on the fact that Joseph Cerny has used only the best ingredients in every instance to assure the highest quality foods.” (3) During the time of the depression, the business employed eight people and had two trucks making deliveries to towns as far away as Bayshore and St. James. (4) Joseph’s son, Arthur (Otokar), drove one of the delivery trucks for the bakery.  Those we spoke to who knew “Artie” described him as being handsome with a charismatic personality. In World War II, he was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, and on D-Day, he was killed parachuting into France on a mission to secure the defense behind Utah Beach. (5) His name is inscribed on a military memorial near the John Pearl Elementary School.

On April 11, 1954, Joseph Cerny died at the age of 75.(6) His children continued the business and, keeping with tradition, even baked some of the old-fashioned Czech recipes, such as Vanocka, a Czech holiday round bread enriched with raisins and topped with glazed cherries. (7) Although the bakery closed in the late 1990s, the building with the bakery sign still stands.

Click on the link to listen to Gloria Rysanek’s fond memories of the bakery.  However, anyone on a low-carb diet is warned that you just may develop a hankering for a piece of pie or slice of crispy rye bread, like we did, after listening to Gloria’s memories.

  1. Deaths.” Suffolk County News, April 16, 1954. Accessed October 25, 2014.
  2. "Bohemia Briefs." Suffolk County News, November 18, 1932. Accessed October 25, 2014.
  3. “Full Line of Baked Delicacies Featured in Modern Cerny Shop.” Suffolk County News, August 05, 1938. Accessed November 2, 2014. Suffolk Historic Newspapers.
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Pvt. Cerny, Paratrooper Dies in Invasion of France." Suffolk County News, July 14, 1944. Accessed October 28, 2014.
  6. Deaths.” Suffolk County News, April 16, 1954. Accessed October 25, 2014.
  7. Sheraton, Mimi. "The Passionate Shopper: Christmas in the Countries." New York Magazine, December 11, 1972, 84. 


Gloria Rysanek Interview