Rolf's Patisserie, which began as a neighborhood bake shop on the far west side and expanded to a large operation providing baked goods to grocery stores, hotels and restaurants nationwide, appears to have ceased operations, or at least to have shut down the Rolf's brand. A statement on their website explains:
With deep regret Rolf's Patisserie, Inc. announces the closing of its business in Lincolnwood, IL, effective immediately. Due to sharply higher operating costs, the cost of financing an expansion project and the inability to operationally meet the seasonal demands of our customers, we have made this difficult decision. We thank you for your patronage and we apologize for any inconvenience.
The fatal blow, however, is more likely to have been an outbreak of staphylococcus aureus-related food poisoning almost exactly a year ago, which caused over a hundred cases of foodborne illness and was traced back to Rolf's.
Rolf's was an existing bakery on the west side when it was purchased by investment banker Lloyd Culbertson and his pastry chef brother Ford in 1984. They added a storefront near Clark and Diversey before moving all their operations to Lincolnwood. The company had planned a major expansion to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and was almost set to bring that plant online when the staph outbreak occurred.
The company recalled all of its product made during the crucial holiday season, which included everything from quiches to gingerbread houses placed in Whole Foods stores in 23 states. It's unclear whether the Pleasant Prairie plant was ever operational, but clearly they suffered a drastic blow from losing all their holiday business that year, and it is likely that reduced business this season made it clear that the brand could not survive.