Are you watching the Tokyo Olympics? Have you ever wondered what some of our Olympic Athletes do when they retire from the sport? Well.. we have something wonderful story to share about a native Los Angeles Resident named Jeanette Bolden.
On Aug. 11, 1984, in front of a packed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Bolden took the baton in the second leg of the 400-meter relay of the Summer Olympics. She was competing with a stress fracture in her foot but still helped the U.S. sail across the finish line with a 15-yard victory for Olympic gold.
Jeanette Bolden-Pickens is the current third-generation owner of 27th Street Bakery–and no one does sweet potato pie like them. With a secret family recipe that’s been handed down since the 1940s, we can see why you don’t mess with tradition!
The bakery specializes in sweet potato pies, and every November and December the orders flood in.
As chief executive, Bolden manages a team of full-time staff and contractors and that fluctuates from 6 to 17. She coordinates deliveries of the company’s pies to approximately 20 local Smart & Final, Ralphs and Albertsons locations and about 100 local restaurants, including Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken.
Bolden also oversees special projects, like securing grants that have helped sustain the business during the pandemic, including $60,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program, $2,300 from the Jewish Free Loan Association that was used to purchase a shrink-wrap machine and a $10,000 grant from Paypal to purchase a pie press machine.
“We lost 40% of our business initially at the beginning of the pandemic. It didn’t start turning around until the third quarter. The end of 2020 was good,” Bolden said. “Now things are kind of leveling off.”
The business was founded in the 1930s by Bolden’s grandparents. Before it was converted to a bakery in 1956, it was a soul food restaurant with Southern dishes made from recipes handed down to Bolden’s grandmother before she moved to California.
“It was greens, your black-eyed peas, your cornbread and pies: apple pie and peach pie, lemon meringue. I remember as a kid growing up, I loved my grandfather’s lemon meringue pie, and I would go into the mixing room, and I would stick my finger in the mixing bowl, and he would pop me on the head.”
As she got older, Bolden started working on and off at the bakery, pitching in whenever she had spare time.
“It was just a part of our DNA. You get up, you do your schooling, and you go to the bakery. You go to the bakery on Saturdays.”
Now Bolden is looking to the future — and the next generation.
“We have the issue of grocery stores. People are ordering a lot more online and Instacart and things like that. I understand. But our pies aren’t available on the grocery store websites.”
Bolden says the bakery will build a new website to compete in the ecommerce age and expand its menu, with plans to add ice cream this summer.
Stop by if you can and support this wonderful Black Business!
Video Courtesy of YouTube and Secret Los Angeles
Picture Courtesy of LA Times