The taste still lingers for George Oley.
A native Richmonder, the 63-year-old dentist recalled fond memories of Westhampton Pastry Shop’s famed brownies – covered in sugar and smothered in about half an inch of chocolate icing and prepared daily at the bakery at 5728 Patterson Ave.
“They are perfect,” Oley said. “There were days I would walk in and simply order a brownie…just biting into that brownie, it was as if the recipe hadn’t changed since I was a kid.”
So when George’s brother, Mark, a pharmacist and owner of nearby Westwood Pharmacy, learned earlier this summer of Guy “Boots” Rogers III’s plans to retire and sell the 60-year-old pastry shop, the pair didn’t waste any time.
“We jumped on it,” George Oley said. “We made them an offer that night.”
The undisclosed price was sweet enough for Rogers, and the Oley brothers held the keys to the Westhampton Pastry Shop about 30 days ago.
Barry Krauss, senior vice president at Chesterfield-based Capital Business Brokers, a subsidiary of Transact Capital Partners, represented the seller during the transaction. Steve Moore, vice president of Capital Business Brokers, represented the Oley family.
All the shop’s employees, about 20 people, were retained, George Oley said.
While Guy Rogers has officially retired from the operation, George Oley said Guy’s wife, Diana, is staying on for a couple months to help manage some of the bookkeeping and complete wedding cake orders.
George and Mark Oley will oversee the finances of the bakery. Their cousin and business partner, Billy Fallen, will manage day-to-day operations at the shop. Anthony Oley, owner of Family Care Pharmacy in the West End, is also a partner in the venture.
Fallen is known locally for Billy Bread Bakery – which is sold and used at a number of restaurants across the city, including Shagbark and Mama Zu’s.
Since taking over at Westhampton, Fallen has introduced coffee to the menu, which is being roasted by Richmond-based Ironclad Coffee Roasters. The interior has also received a fresh coat of paint and wallpapering, and some new baking equipment has been ordered.
“There are some ovens in there that have been operational for more than 50 years,” George Oley said.
But don’t expect much of anything, especially the pastry recipes and offerings, to change at the bakery anytime soon.
“One of the major deals for taking over the bakery was making sure we would not alter one recipe,” George Oley said. “And that’s what we intend to do. We’re not going to change a thing on that front.”
He said the idea of opening on Mondays has been discussed, although no definite decision has been made. The bakery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday.
There have also been discussions of possible satellite locations – as long as the goods are baked to similar quality at one location, most likely at its home quarters on Patterson Avenue. Fallen said the bakery may also look to sell baked goods in local markets.
George Oley doesn’t expect to turn a major profit from the Westhampton Pastry Shop, but wants to preserve a piece of Richmond culinary history.
“Westhampton (Pastry Shop) is a Richmond icon,” he said. “Bill’s Barbecue, gone; Dot’s Bakery, gone; …Tarrant’s Pharmacy, gone. You had the Ukrops Grocery store chain that got bought out by Martin’s…I didn’t want to see that happen to Westhampton, because who are we kidding, who else could have made those brownies, right?”