The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

August 10, 2013

Bringing back tradition: Historic Eilenberger's Bakery to reopen this fall


PALESTINE — About the Owner

A small-town boy who became a self-made Palestine businessman, Jones was reared in Slocum and graduated from Slocum High School in 1977. After high school, he worked two jobs for many years — at the old Holiday Inn (now Express Inn & Suites) and Borden Milk.

After several years of working hard and pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, Jones bought the Holiday Inn — which had just become Days Inn — in 1991 and the Ramada Inn across the street, both located on Palestine Avenue, as well as another hotel in Rusk.

At the Day’s Inn (now Express Inn & Suites), he also managed The Gazebo restaurant and the hotel bar, The Iron Horse, at its beginning. He sold his last Palestine hotel, Express Inn & Suites, in 2005.

Since that time, Jones continued to use his experience in the hotel business to help other hotel owners, mostly in South Texas, filling in as temporary management or overseeing changes, as needed. While working in Victoria, he started building hotels in areas where he saw a need, eventually selling all but one.

Palestine has always been home, but Jones is now planning to be in Palestine full-time. He and his wife, Linda, attend Evangelistic Temple and have twins who both graduated from Palestine High School this year.

More History

In 1949, Eilenberger sold the bakery to his sons Fred and Herman and his son-in-law Claude Westerman.

The new bakery owners put the German family fruitcake recipe to work for the bakery. The business venture was successful, and in fact, was so successful that Eilenberger’s switched its primary product from bread to fruitcakes in 1968.

In 1978, Tom Broyles — a fifth-generation Texan and the great-grandson of Texas Gov. Thomas Mitchell Campbell — saved the bakery from closure. He purchased the bakery from the Eilenberger family and owned it until 1993.

Broyles then sold the bakery to Silverado Foods of Tulsa, Okla., managing the bakery from 1993 to 1995. During Broyles tenure in 1980, the Texas Pecan Cake and World Famous Fruitcake earned Monde International Gold Medal Awards at the World Food Selection in Brussels.

The bakery changed hands again in 1997, when Centennial Foods of Atlanta, Ga. purchased the bakery. They closed the doors just a few years later in 2000.

Local residents Terresa and Stephen Smith became the owners and operators of the bakery in 2000.

Smith was well on her way to re-instilling success at the bakery, but fell ill and passed away in 2008. Upon Smith’s passing, Southern Fulfillment Services of Vero Beach, Fla. acquired the over a century-old bakery.

Dana Goolsby contributed to this report.

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