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The Cottage Bakery Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA  

In 1937, as Route 66 shifted from a north-south alignment along Fourth Street through Albuquerque to its better-known east-west passage along Central Ave., the Cottage Bakery moved into its new location across from the University of New Mexico at 2000/2004 East Central Ave. Its proprietors, Herbert Weis and his brother-in-law, Prince Schroeder, had opened their Cottage Pure Food Shop in 1931 a few blocks to the east on Monte Vista Blvd. Weis and Schroeder had previously owned a bakery in Winslow, Arizona; at the height of the Great Depression, they headed east along the Mother Road, against the flow of displaced Dust Bowl migrants. It was not an easy time to start a new business, but they must have done something right, for within just a few years they were ready for a newer, bigger establishment right on Albuquerque’s – and America’s – main drag.

Playing on the name of the business, Weis and Schroeder’s new building featured a faux thatched cottage appearance, with playful “eyebrows” above each of the doors. Although understated compared to many similar roadside businesses whose buildings were their own advertisements, the Cottage Bakery was designed to quickly catch the eye of passing motorists, especially in a city that was already embracing a strong regionally-styled architecture rife with Pueblo-Spanish Revival motifs. Behind the small storefront retail shop (which was shared initially with the Spot Ice Cream Company) stood a more utilitarian structure that housed the bakers’ wholesale and production facilities. But it was the little cottage out front that stamped the business’s identity on the minds of the motoring public, locals and travelers alike.

For most of its life, the two halves of the cottage have housed separate businesses. The Cottage Bakery, although under varying ownership and sometimes different names, lasted at 2004 E. Central (the eastern side of the building) until 1960. The Spot, as it was known, lasted only a couple of years in the western half (2000 E. Central). It was followed in quick succession by a café, a pharmacy, and a flower shop before settling in as the Cottage Grill during the 1950s. Brennan’s Men’s Shop briefly united the two halves of the cottage during the mid-1960s. In 1966, the building was again divided, with 2004 hosting a pizzeria, and 2000 remaining vacant until the Psychedelic Flower Shop opened in 1968.

Pizza proved profitable, and various pizzerias remained in the eastern side of the building until 1984. The western half enjoyed no such stability. The Psychedelic Flower Shop was as fleeting as the Summer of Love, and it was not until 1980 that any business remained for more than a year or two, when a hair salon lasted into the mid-90s. 2004 continued to host restaurants, including Smitty’s Sausage and Suds, The Fajita Factory, and a burger joint called Smooch’s. LA Underground, a hip-hop culture store, moved into the west side of the building in 1997, and expanded after Smooch’s closed, once again joining together the two halves of the cottage. Meanwhile, the back part of the original bakery has housed a live theatre company since the early 1980s.

Unlike many historic buildings along Route 66, which survived as a result of stable businesses that continued to cater to travelers through the decades, the Cottage Bakery provides an alternate narrative, one of near-constant change. It’s all the more remarkable, then, that the humble little cottage remains.

The Cottage Bakery (currently LA Underground) is at 2000 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is open from 11 AM-8 PM Monday-Saturday and 12 PM- 6 PM on Sundays.

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