Jacobs isn't sure the newer entrants can do what he's done: keep going after nearly 70 years in the business. He said many of them have little understanding of the industry. "People take big chances to buy bakeries, but they are not bakers," he said.
Jacobs himself had middle-class parents who hadn't expected their son to go into baking (at the time a trade considered lower-class). But eventually, his father signed him up for a two-year apprenticeship at a Budapest bakery.
He wasn't paid and slept above the bakery's oven (using flour sacks for his bedding). After those two years, he passed a test that scored him on his ability to make about 100 bakery items and went to work at another bakery in Budapest.
After settling in L.A. in 1958, he found it hard to get a job as a baker because he wasn't a member of the union. His wife helped make ends meet by working as a dressmaker in Beverly Hills.
Finally, Jacobs got hired to clean a Fairfax Avenue bakery on Saturdays. Though the bakery claimed to be kosher meaning no one should work at it on the Sabbath he would mop the floors while the windows were closed so no one could see. After saving money from that and another bakery job, he bought Brown's over 35 years ago and kept the name of the previous owners.
Today, all that's left of the Brown's store is its fa & #231;ade. But Silverman is betting that the wholesale business Jacobs built has growth potential, and Jacobs isn't leaving his bread behind, like other Jewish bakers have.
"People get older, and not everybody is so meshugeneh like me. Every human being thinks different," he said. "You see me here everyday."
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