Jubelt's Bakery and Restaurant in Litchfield is celebrating their 90th anniversary in business this year, and their 60th year in Litchfield.
To celebrate, Jubelt's will be giving away 90 prizes, offering 90-cent specials, and there will be many giveaways with purchase beginning Monday, June 11, and ending Sunday, June 24.
There will also be several contests, including "Your Favorite Jubelt's Memory," and a new menu item contest. Information is available at www.jubelts.com, Facebook, or in the store.
In May of 1922, three brothers, Paul, Fred, and Albert Jubelt, bought an existing bakery in the coal mining community of Mt. Olive. Bread was by far the most important product of the bakery. The brothers worked hard and were successful financially.
In 1929, Albert died and Fred opened a second bakery in Granite City. In 1935 the partnership dissolved and Paul continued to operate the Mt. Olive location himself.
As more highways were built in the 1930s, competition from national bread companies increased dramatically. A house-to-house route was begun, with son John driving a truck at age 14. However, with the advent of World War II and the resulting shortages of materials and manpower, this effort came to an end.
John joined the firm full time in 1949. In 1950, given the general decline in coal mining in the area, Jubelt's expanded with another store in Taylorville. John married Iris Dawkins, and was soon drafted and sent to Korea. Upon returning home, he and Iris opened another store in downtown Litchfield in 1952.
Over the next 40 years, more stores were opened in the surrounding area, including Lincoln, Carlinville, Staunton, Gillespie, and Springfield. Along with the stores, the bakery served many independent grocers. In 1970, Paul died.
In order to meet customer demand, in the late 70s Jubelt's started selling prepackaged vending type sandwiches in the Litchfield store. Deciding to expand the lunch business, John made a deal with the owner of a new concept restaurant in Litchfield, "Stick and Dip," to provide instruction and recipes. After some sessions in the test kitchen at Bunn Capital, John and Iris expanded the lunch offerings to freshly made sandwiches, salads, and soups in all of their stores.
After helping in the business since the age of 14, John and Iris's son Lance joined the family business full time after graduating from college in 1977.
As business in Litchfield began to shift to the west side of town, John, Iris, and Lance began to look for a larger place with parking. When the Burger Chef building on Route 66 came available, the family decided to take the plunge and opened the current restaurant in 1982.
As John used to say, "If we hadn't gotten into the restaurant business, we wouldn't be here having the conversation." As the 1980s drew to a close, the start of a new decade brought changes in the bakery business.
With the introduction of supermarket bakeries, big box stores, store closings in small town business districts, and changes in the American lifestyle, the independent bakery became a dying breed.
John passed away in August 2003, and soon after that Jubelt's began closing stores. In May 2007, Lance passed away.
Shortly before John's death in 2003, John and Iris' daughter, Jeanmarie, returned home from Chicago where she had lived and worked for 20 years. After Lance's death, Iris and Jeanmarie decided to keep only the Litchfield store open and relocate bakery production there. In January 2008, Jeanmarie purchased the business from Iris, starting a new chapter in the company's 86th year.
"Over the last 90 years, Jubelt's has changed direction many times in order to adjust to changing times and lifestyles," according to Jean. "With the help of loyal customers from the surrounding area, and travelers from around the globe, we're preparing to enter our tenth decade."