When Fredrick J. Pollman moved to Mobile in 1900, he brought the flavor of New Orleans with him. His sister’s husband had opened a bakery and needed Fred’s expertise.
By 1918, Fred had started his own bakery in downtown Mobile and began baking bread, cakes and pies for local grocery stores and restaurants. He made the pies and pastries for the first Morrison’s Cafeteria, which opened two years after his bakery.
While only one Morrison’s Cafeteria remains, the original Fred Pollman’s legacy lives on at three Pollman’s Bake Shops in Mobile.
“We are still making some of the things that we did 100 years ago,” said Fred Pollman III, who runs the business now with his wife, Rose.
Pollman’s Bake Shops’ Praline Dobash Cake, a layered dessert that originated in New Orleans, is one of the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. That is not the only Crescent City favorite that Pollman’s has made its own in Mobile.
Pollman’s also introduced the Azalea City to the King Cake and po’ boy sandwiches.
“What we have brought to Mobile, a lot of people have copied from us,” said Fred III. “I look at us as the pioneers in this industry. We are always looking for the next best thing.”
Fred and Corinne Pollman, who started the bakery, lost their money and their business when their bank failed with the 1929 stock market crash. By 1937, they had opened again as a small retail bakery.
About 1950, Fred’s children bought the business from their parents – sons Fred Pollman Jr. and Charles Pollman, and daughter, Mary Pollman Bender. In 1981, the second generation felt it was time to retire, so they sold the business. Pollman’s without the Pollmans was short-lived. The third generation bought the business back in 1989 and continue to run it today with some help from the second generation.
Fred III’s 92-year-old mother, Beverly, continues to come in occasionally to work in the office. Fred Pollman Jr. died in 2008. “He was my guiding light,” said Fred III. “Thank God my mother is still with us to celebrate 100 years.”
“Pollman’s is a tradition in Mobile, a legacy, a legend,” said Danette Richards, director of Small Business Development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. “Parents use Pollman’s cookies as a way to bribe their children or reward them.”
The bakery has made wedding and birthday cakes for generations of the same families. “We are baking wedding cakes right now for girls who went to school with my daughter,” said Rose Pollman.
“It is a good feeling to sell joy,” said Fred III.
- Pollman’s Bake Shop was recognized Oct. 16, 2018, as an Alabama Centennial Retailer.
- Video interview with the Pollmans and Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Another 2018 Alabama Centennial Retailer is Trowbridge Creamery in Florence.
Story by Nancy King Dennis