A 120-pound sailfish takes up a sizable chunk of the eastern wall at Weiman's Bakery in Shockoe Bottom. The fish, after all these years, finally is coming down.
Weiman's, a Richmond institution since 1945, is closing.
"We had no alternative but to cease operations," says Morton Weiman, sitting in his office Saturday with his prize catch. "Today's the last delivery."
Weiman, 78, helped his mother and father open the bakery in 1945. He was 10. It is among the few remaining Jewish bakeries on the East Coast. After his father, Jacob, died in 1982, Weiman and his son, Allan, took over. Up until the final delivery, Weiman's cranked out between 80,000 and 90,000 pounds of bread each month, selling mostly to high-end restaurants and food-service companies.
Weiman declines to discuss his health issues, but says he simply can't put in the hours like he used to. The bakery employed 20.
"We're looking for buyers," Weiman says of the property at 17th and Grace streets — a little more than a half acre, with an assessed value of about $676,000. "We've already had a few inquiries."
A block north of the 17th Street Farmers' Market, Weiman's sits within the footprint of on-again, off-again plans for a new baseball stadium, which started in earnest a decade ago. In 2004, Weiman had discussions with developers pressing to build a new ballpark just north of the farmers' market, but those plans never materialized.
Weiman declines to identify the potential buyers.
Sources say that Mayor Dwight Jones is nearing a decision on where the city plans to build a new ballpark, and Shockoe Bottom is rumored to be the mayor's preferred location. But there's been little official movement on those plans.
Phil Conein, co-owner of Techead, a technology staffing company in the same block on 17th Street, says he has yet to hear from potential buyers.
"I haven't heard anything, to tell you the truth," Conein says. "Not an email, phone call, nothing."