Now 24 years removed from baking his first baguette in Over-the-Rhine, Shadeau Breads owner and baker Bill Pritz is trading in his apron for a long-overdue break with his wife, Charlotte.
Parting ways with his only location at 1336 Main St., flour and all, Pritz recently sold Shadeau Breads to his accountant of 10 years, Brett Arnow, to fulfill a promise he made to Charlotte more than five years ago.
Now 64 years old, Pritz fell in love with baking when he was in his 20s, first as a baker’s assistant at the local Virginia Bakery and later as a student at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis and the New York Restaurant School in New York City. He worked at bakeries, hotels, restaurants and pizzerias along the way.
In 1993, he opened Shadeau Breads in Cincinnati after “drifting” through the Midwest and East Coast for awhile. A frequent self-professed drifter, he met Charlotte while wandering through Minnesota, where they’ll return after he retires. Shadeau started as a direct-to-restaurant/market operation and eventually opened to the general public. Their current menu offers a variety of breads — French, rye and sourdough, plus brioche, croissants, focaccia and assorted pastries.
Though eager to spend some time away from the oven, Pritz admitted that making his last baked good at the storefront would be bittersweet.
“You know, it’s a good chance to take a break, but obviously, it’s emotional,” he says. “I’ve become really attached to this space. It’s really become a home for me.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about Shadeau Breads, he puts forth an answer only an honest baker could admire: “I’ll probably miss bread. I take bread home all the time. I don’t get tired of it; I like bread.”
Pritz’s days as a baker, however, are far from over. Once the dust settles from his move to Minnesota, he intends to don his apron once again to start a smaller bakery.
Brett Arnow, on the other hand, will waste no time in working to maintain Pritz’s evergreen traditions at Shadeau Breads.
“Bill has been a baker for a long time and he has a lot of experience,” Brett says. “My plans with Shadeau Breads are to continue on in a similar fashion, providing high-quality baked goods and breads both to retail and wholesale.”
Elisa Arnow, Brett’s wife of 23 years, is also honored to take part in advancing Pritz’s legacy.
“His breads are delicious,” she says. “I think he has a great reputation. So when Brett mentioned to me continuing his work and the bakery, I just thought it was a wonderful idea. To be able to continue his traditions is an honor in a lot of ways.”
Long before Brett joined forces with Pritz as his Certified Public Accountant, Elisa would often make an effort to buy one of Pritz’s highly regarded baguettes before 8 a.m. “It was always special if I could get here to get the baguette before work,” she says.
Now working with the bakery for 10 years, Brett and Elisa have come to love much more than the baguettes. Tasked with preserving the oldest from-scratch bakery in OTR, Brett is well aware of the stakes at hand. Thus, he has every intention to lean on Pritz’s tried-and-true recipes in order to continue to do what Shadeau Breads does best.
“There are a lot of recipes that have been used for a long time that taste very good, so we are going to continue to do those same things,” he says.
To replace Pritz and another baker that recently retired, Brett is in the process of hiring three new employees to ensure the transition continues to run smoothly. The Arnows’ two boys, ages 14 and 18, are also expected to try their hands at the bakery business when possible.
Additionally, Brett emphasizes that the remaining employees at Shadeau Breads are fully committed to the new era. Trading in his calculator for a flour-ridden apron, Brett feels fortunate that he will have the support of his wife, two boys and employees. Support from the community is surely bound to follow.
SHADEAU BREADS is located at 1336 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. More info: shadeaubreads.com.