When you open the door to Lyndell’s, you’re walking into more than just a bakery. You’re taking a bite of local history.
Located in Somerville's Ball Square,Lyndell’s Bakery has been serving the Somerville community since 1887 and is the oldest scratch bakery in New England. It marked its 135th year of business this year and has remained true to its traditional roots.
Large glass display cases feature their various delectable delights, from pastries to custom cakes to half moons, all of which are baked using their century-old recipes.
Bill Galatis, the fourth and current owner of Lyndell’s, shared that all the products at Lyndell’s are made fresh daily, which has allowed the bakery to sustain itself for a long time.
This commitment to the quality of its products is reflected in the dedication of Lyndell's staff, Galatis added.
“The bakers will come in at 2 [a.m.]. Still, depending on the day of the week, they'll determine what needs to be made. So the shop opens up at 7 [a.m.] and then we run from 7 [a.m.] to around 6 [p.m.]," Galatis said. "The staff will come in around an hour ahead of time, just to set up the front of the store, and then we open up the doors for business. So that just repeats itself every single day."
Lyndell’s is busy year-round, especially during the holiday season. According to Galatis, the bakery generates about 30% of its annual business from the day before Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.
In addition to their popular pastries and breads, Lyndell’s also has a flourishing custom cake business.
“Calls will come in ordering cakes for whatever occasion. [For] wedding cakes we typically do tastings. If they’re birthday cakes or graduation cakes, typically we need a two or three day notice," Galatis said.
Lyndell’s cakes and pastries are popular among Tufts students.
“I’ve been continuously going [to Lyndell’s] for both my housemates’ birthdays and other friends’ birthdays, and every time I go … I’ll preorder the cake and I’ll get it, and then I’ll go in and grab another snack because I look around and everything looks so good," Chris Hale, a junior, said.
Temple Miller-Hodgkin, a senior at Tufts, said that Lyndell’s is his go-to spot for ordering baked goods.
“One of the things that I like most about [Lyndell’s] most is it’s just straightforward. … It’s simple, classy,”Miller-Hodgkin added.
Summer Maxwell, a sophomore, has been going to Lyndell’s since before she was even a Tufts student.
“I’ve been going to Lyndell’s since I was a little kid because my dentist was right around the block and so … to get me to go to the dentist, my parents would say, ‘Oh ok, if you go to the dentist and you behave, then you can go to Lyndell’s after,’ Maxwell said. “I would always get the same thing: … the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and it was just the best. ... [Lyndell’s was] a really warm, happy place in my childhood."
Galatis noted that Lyndell’s values its relationship with the Tufts community.
“We'd like to make it even stronger than what it is. ... We’d love to have more students as customers,”Galatis said.
Gigi Cohen, a junior, worked at Lyndell’s this past summer and fall semester and intends to continue to work there this upcomingsummer. As counter staff at Lyndell’s, Cohenconverses with customers, takes orders, packages items and rings customers up on the register.
Cohen reflected on her work experience at Lydnell’s and its meaning to her.
“[I learned] how to be patient with customers ... [and] with myself and the people teaching me how to work the bakery,” Cohen said. “I was working with people who are double my age, even older. It's fun to work with such a variety of people.”
Tommy MacArthur, a sophomore at Tufts, is currently working at Lyndell’s. He noted that working in food service during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenging environment to navigate, but employees at Lyndell’s take the necessary precautions.
“Everybody inside has to be masked basically all the time and we wash our hands all the time and we wear gloves. We always hand things to people in bags,”MacArthur said.
Like all businesses across the country, Lyndell’s was, and continues to be, affected by the ongoing pandemic.
“We were ordered to close for a week in March of 2020, but then we were classified as an essential grocery store because we sold so many different things ... so we were allowed to stay open,”Galatis said. “We certainly lost business and the business is coming back slowly but surely. It’s a slow climb back up, but we did apply for and receive all of the aid that was available to us.”
Lyndell’s has an active presence in the community and donates its leftovers to various charities. The bakery has partnered with Boston University, for example, to donate leftover baked goods.
Galatis explained that Lyndell’s packs up and donates anything that doesn’t sell that day and anything with a two or three day shelf life. Through charity, Lyndell’s Bakery serves and shares its sweets with Somerville and Greater Boston.
From its vintage signage to the individually string-wrapped pastry boxes to its hundred-year-old recipes, Lyndell’s Bakery has maintained an iconic presence in the community.
“Over the span of 135 years, ... [Lyndell’s has] just continued to produce some fresh products every single day, and it's turned out to be a great neighborhood bakery and actually iconic within the Greater Somerville area,”Galatis said. “We make over 10,000 custom decorated cakes a year. ... [This] has allowed the bakery to continue as a great tradition, particularly with families ... [and] the students at Tufts too.”