Walls Bakery Fires Up Again

Dorothy Walls helps operate the revived Walls Bakery in Prince Frederick, as its famed chocolate eclairs, below, return to Southern Maryland.
Dorothy Walls helps operate the revived Walls Bakery in Prince Frederick, as its famed chocolate eclairs, below, return to Southern Maryland. (Photos By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
By Michael Tunison
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Walls Bakery, the destination for pastry lovers throughout Southern Maryland, has reopened for the second time in five years and is operating in the same Calvert County building where the family business started more than 35 years ago.

The bakery, which had claimed to make "The World's Best Eclairs," reopened over the summer inside the Calvert Country Market in Prince Frederick. There was little fanfare as the Walls family relied on word of mouth to bring in business.

"We didn't tell anyone. We didn't think we could handle the rush. We're kind of afraid of telling you all," said Mark Walls, grandson of the bakery's founder. "People were acting like it's some kind of myth. They said they started freezing eclairs when we last closed.

"Now when they show up, they call [their] family members on their phones, telling them that they finally found us and it was true" Walls was baking again, he said.

The business closed in March 2005 after decades of baking within the Wigwam building on Crain Highway in Waldorf. George and Christa Walls, the first of three generations to run the bakery, decided to sell and retire, splitting the proceeds among family members. The elder Wallses had made a run at retirement in 2001, closing the bakery for two months, but then went back into business.

Now the bakery, replete with a new kitchen, is being operated by George and Christa's son and daughter, Bob and Dorothy, and Bob's wife, Martha, and son Mark. Bob Walls had tried working in other bakeries but said he did not feel that he fit in with their methods and preferred preparing food from scratch.

"After six months of sitting at home and doing nothing, I knew this was the right decision," Bob Walls said.

Mark Walls said his grandparents are not involved in the new Walls Bakery, preferring to stick with retirement. "They weren't happy and they weren't sad," he said of his grandparents' reaction to the reopening of the bakery. "They were pretty much just, like, 'Good luck.' "

The bakery will be offering its usual fare, except for decorative cakes. Another bakery, Cakes by Jeneva, opened a stand nearby in the marketplace, and the Walls family did not want to be in direct competition.

"That's our way of being good neighbors," Mark Walls said.

The return of the bakery has brought out some longtime fans.

During the first week, Bob Walls said, a call came from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, who was checking to confirm rumors that the bakery was open again and inquiring about the eclairs. Two weeks ago, he said, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R), who was a frequent visitor to Walls Bakery in Waldorf, dropped by to pick up eclairs and cheesecake during a campaign stop. He is running for the U.S. Senate.

Bob Walls said he wanted to start small with the bakery's return. He is scouting locations in Waldorf and hopes to open another shop there.

On a recent afternoon, Donna Diana of La Plata was eying the display cases. Mark Walls asked what she was looking for.

"I don't know," she replied. "I want everything."

Diana said she had been using another bakery since Walls closed in Waldorf but was pleased to learn that the revived shop has Sunday hours.

"Sundays after church is when you go to the bakery. A bakery should be open on Sundays, right?" she said. "I was wondering what happened to this place. Someone had said Walls was in Calvert, but I didn't know where. I just found out today. I'll come every week here to get my pastries now."

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