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Jay Dee makes move to new Southern home

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The now-shuttered Jay Dee Bakery in Rego Park that was beloved by borough residents for more than six decades for its 1950s art deco architecture and array of treats will make its debut in Alabama next year, thanks to Forest Hills native Michael Perlman’s efforts to save the shop he frequented throughout his childhood.

Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, will help business partners Joel Owens and Patti Miller next weekend dismantle elements of the Jay Dee Bakery that will soon be shown in a historical village near Birmingham, Ala. The area will include both a reconstructed Jay Dee Bakery, which was located at 98-92 Queens Blvd. and will function as an actual sweets shop, and Manhattan’s Cheyenne Diner, which Perlman also helped save.

“I’m very happy it found owners who will cherish it and grant the opportunity to future generations to enjoy this institution as we enjoyed it,” said Perlman, who grew up in Forest Hills. “It is sad that it’s not remaining close to its roots, but at the very least elements will be reused and the ambiance will be recreated elsewhere.”

Jay Dee’s owner, Amnir Yelizarov, closed the bakery in July and plans to transform the space into a Middle Eastern catering hall.

“The bakery business was not doing well,” Yelizarov said of his decision to close Jay Dee.

Perlman said he tried to work with Yelizarov to keep the shop’s unique architectural style, which includes a neon sign reading “Jay Dee Bakery,” green mosaic columns surrounding the window and a Lucite door and steel handle with “pull” etched on it vertically. Yelizarov mulled over the proposal for several days but eventually declined.

While the Queens preservationist was disheartened, he said he quickly moved on to his “Plan B,” which included sending out a mass e-mail about saving parts of the bakery. Miller and Owens, both of Alabama, were the first to contact Perlman, who was thrilled with their idea to recreate Jay Dee’s interior and exterior.

The duo will likely bring back many elements of the bakery, including the door handle, the door and the mosaic columns. They will use old photos of the bakery to completely recreate it.

Jay Dee opened in the early 1950s and the site had been a bakery likely since 1940, Perlman said. The store had been Jolette’s Quality Bakery prior to becoming Jay Dee.

“Jay Dee Bakery meant too much to the neighborhood patrons,” Perlman said. “I remember taking long walks with my grandparents and they would bring me into Jay Dee Bakery when I was small. They treated me to scrumptious pastries, like the cherry cookies, the rainbow cookies or the chocolate cupcakes. I always marveled over the tiered birthday and wedding cakes that were on display.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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