Franco American
Franco American Baking Co., 509 W. 38th St. (2003)

The Franco-American Baking Co. was located here from 1909 to 1930. The founder was August Hannibal (1858-1940). Hannibal's obituary in the New York Times (23 Dec. 1940, p. 23) states, "Born in Germany, Mr. Hanniball came to this country at the age of 21, became a citizen and established the A. Hanniball Flour and Feed Company, which did a thriving business. In 1909 he founded the Franco-American Baking Company at 509-521 West Thirty-eighth Street, New York, becoming president of the firm. August Janssen, founder of Janssen's Graybar Hofbrau, and Oscar Tschirky of the Astoria were directors of the company. Mr. Hanniball retired in 1927, when the baking company was absorbed by the Gottfried Baking Company of New York." (Note: this notice spells Hannibal with two ls, but most sources have it with only one.)

August Janssen (1867-1939) also received an obituary in the Times. His funeral services were attended by notables such as New York City mayor, Fiorella La Guardia. "Mayer La Guardia, well-known restaurateurs and many representatives of the Masonic order and Rotary were among 250 persons who attended a funeral services yesterday for August L. Janssen, restaurateur, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 345 West Twentieth Street. Mr. Janssen died Thursday at the age of 72." (New York Times, 19 Nov. 1939, p. 39.) Janssen was known primarily as the owner of Janssen's Hofbrau Haus, a german-american restaurant located at 1214 Broadway on the corner of 30th St. He also dealt extensively in real estate, with companies like Long Island Sound Realty Co., Manhasset Park Co., North Shore Building Co., and Twelve Fourteen Broadway Corp. A photo dated 1928 shows the Janssen Hofbrau Haus at 1214 Broadway. The image shows a large overhang sign reading JANSSEN with the slogan "Wants to See You" at the bottom. This is available at the New York Public Library's Digital Collections.

Also an officer at Franco-American Baking Co. was Herman Reher (1855-1936). Herman Reher was a brewer in New York in the 1880s and then got into the bakery business in the 1890s (with Fred J. Mackenzie at 584 Hudson St., 1895-1897). In the U. S. Census reports for 1900 and 1910 Reher is identified as a saloon keeper. In 1920 the designation was "Director, Brewing Co." Reher seems to have been associated with Franco-American Baking from the earliest years until the mid-1920s. He was also president of the United Wine & Trading Co., wholesale liquor dealers, 321 W. 13th St., in the early 1920s.

Oscar Tschirky (1866-1950) was an immigrant from Switzerland who began his career in 1883 as a bus boy, became a waiter and later became the maitre d'hôtel at the Waldorf-Astoria. His extensive obituary in the New York Times (8 Nov. 1950, p. 28) reads in part, "Mr. Tschirky retired in 1943 as maitre d'hôtel of the Waldorf-Astoria after having served the hotel and its predecessor, the 'old' Waldorf, for half a century... He was born Sept. 28, 1866, at Locle, Canton de Neuchatel, in Switzerland. After attending school at Chaux-de-Fonds and Fribourg, he came to the United States in May, 1883. On the day after his arrival three important events occurred. The Brooklyn Bridge was opened, young Tshirky [sic] got a job and he took time off to apply for American citizenship. The job was at the Hoffman House at Twenty-sixth Street and Broadway as a bus boy. It took him just six months to work up to a position as waiter. Oscar of the Hoffman House must have been a good waiter. In a short time he became the most popular member of the staff, the first choice of the guests, and director of the more fashionable dinner parties. In almost as brief a time, too, he shed his alien manner and became a thorough-going New Yorker. He proved this by loving to stop and watch holes being dug in the ground. One of these holes, a pretty big one for the Nineties, was being shoveled away at Thirty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue. Young Oscar learned that on the site of the old Astor home there would be a new hotel. The then captain of the Delmonico waiters went to George C. Boldt of Philadelphia, who was building the hotel, and asked for a job. Mr. Boldt demanded references. Oscar passed a paper among his regular patrons and presented Mr. Boldt with a 'reference' signed by most of the outstanding gentlemen of the city. He got the job."

< previous || next  >      index      map      signs by date      signs by name      see what's new