By PAM SCHIFF As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And, after 100-plus years of baking, the Kaplan family decided it was time to say goodbye to Rainbow Bakery. Murray Kaplan, a proud Navy veteran, is the grandson and nephew of the
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And, after 100-plus years of baking, the Kaplan family decided it was time to say goodbye to Rainbow Bakery.
Murray Kaplan, a proud Navy veteran, is the grandson and nephew of the original owners and bakers.
Rainbow Bakery was established in 1917 by immigrants Abraham and Samuel Kaplan, who were originally grain millers back in Ukraine. Upon their arrival in Providence, in 1912, they quickly went about setting up their business.
Murray still uses the recipes from his “Zaide,” or grandfather, but confesses that his father had to translate them to English from the Russian and Yiddish in which they were originally written.
“In the very beginning, there were bagels, sissel (rye) bread and challahs. These were the staples people were looking for. They reminded them of ‘home,’ it was familiar food,” Murray said.
The business moved to Cranston 1954. In true Rhode Island style, Scott Kaplan, Murray’s son, explained: “It was at the former Barnes rubber business.”
Just six weeks before the new bakery building at 800 Reservoir Ave. was scheduled to open, Murray’s father, Barney, passed away from a heart attack when Murray was only 16 years old.
Murray graduated from Cranston East in 1966 and did his duty in the Navy, while his mother Leah and brother Daniel ran the bakery.
After his stint in the navy, Murray returned home and home to the bakery.
“I never thought about college, I put family needs ahead of my personal ones,” Murray said.
Now, four years after the 100th anniversary of Rainbow Bakery, Murray is ready to retire.
“I missed out on so much. Now I can relax. I’m going to see my first grandchild. I need to cut my grass,” he joked.
On Saturday, the last day of business, Kaplan baked and sold 300 dozen bagels, or 3,600. By the end of the day, there were only a few loaves of pumpernickel bread left on the shelves.
“I am sure it hasn’t truly hit him yet. It will register with him Tuesday morning, when he doesn’t have to wake up early, and realizes he has nowhere to go, nowhere to be,” Scott said.
Murray said once they announced the closing of the bakery, customers started coming out of the woodwork.
“People I hadn’t seen or heard from for years were calling, sending, Facebook messages, coming into the store,” Murray said.
They all shared memories of when their own parents and grandparents brought them into the bakery.
Cranston native Roy Gessman came in with his own son to get some bread to bring to his dad.
“My dad would come here every Sunday morning, to be get either a sissel or rye bread. The cases were always filled with special treats,” he said.
Murray and his wife of over 50 years, Deby, never intended for any of their three children to take over the business.
“This was never a life for them. We pushed education, education, education,” Deby said.
One accomplishment that Murray is sentimental about, and proud of, is that when the United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, he was commissioned to bake a cake in the model of the Rhode Island State House.
Scott remembers playing hide-and-seek in the bakery as a young child.
“This was my playground. So many friends in the neighborhood would come in. Every afternoon I would come in after school, and sit on my Bubbe’s [grandmother’s] lap, and we would take a 10-minute nap. I am grateful to my family for all the memories this place has given me,” he said.
Mayor Ken Hopkins presented a proclamation to the Kaplan Family, declaring Saturday, May 15, as Rainbow Bakery Day in Cranston.
“It’s been so wonderful all the customers who have wished us well, how many people who supported us all these years. It’s been a long haul, it wasn’t easy, but honestly, I am so overwhelmed by all of this,” Murray said.