Taylor’s Bakery Owners Talk Rich History, Family & Northside Growth
Photographer: Ron Wise
How does a relatively small, family-owned bakery not only stay in business but also flourish for more than a century? For Taylor’s Bakery co-owners and Fishers natives Drew and Matt Allen, it’s all about genuinely caring about your product, your employees and your community.
Originally founded in 1913 at 38th and Illinois streets as a grocery store offering baked goods among its many food and household products, Taylor’s began focusing on sweet treats after the 1930s, gaining a loyal customer following through subsequent decades.
John Allen, whose grandfather Dennis O. Taylor founded the business and whose parents helped to grow and diversify it, eventually assumed ownership and in 1968 opened a second location at 62nd Street and Allisonville Road to stay in sync with Indianapolis’s northward population growth. That location became the company’s headquarters in 1973 after the 38th and Illinois store closed, and for 50 years it’s helped to satisfy Indy’s sweet tooth.
“We’ve continued to invest in the areas where we do business, and we’re continually updating and upgrading our equipment,” says Drew, who joined the family business in the early 2000s with Matt after the brothers graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “It’s been a slow, steady growth.”
If it’s baked and it’s sweet, you’ll likely find it at Taylor’s – cookies, cakes, doughnuts, danish, breads and dinner rolls and flavored popcorn are all offered. Everything is made fresh daily down to the ice cream, which is a more recent addition to the company’s menu and is churned from scratch using special in-house machinery. Wedding cakes are in constant demand, as are birthday and specialty cakes for most any occasion.
The company keeps a steady stream of institutional business including schools, restaurants and hospitals in addition to its individual retail base, and Matt says he and Drew strive to keep a balance between the two types of clientele.
“We do the commercial work, but we never want to lose focus on the retail customers that come in and see us day in and day out,” he says. “You have to perform for them.”
In September of 2003 Drew and Matt launched a second location in downtown Fishers on East 116th Street with John, who is now semi-retired, and they say the timing was perfect for an expansion.
“With the explosion of businesses up in Fishers we do so much business there now,” Matt says. “It’s a different clientele with the young professionals up there, versus down at 62nd and Allisonville where you see some older clients.”
Drew adds that the decision to enter the Fishers market, while making good business sense, had a sentimental component as well.
“With us being Fishers natives we wanted a presence there,” Drew says. “The neat thing is we’re seeing the second generation after being there for 15 years — kids that came in with their parents have gone off to school and are married and are back with their kids saying their mom used to bring them in.”
To commemorate 100 years in business, the Allens and their employees observed the occasion with (what else?) a celebratory cake, along with doughnut hole giveaways all day long.
“We did a 10-tier cake and each tier represented a decade in the business with old photos or something that was specific to that time period,” Matt says.
With 75 full-time and part-time employees at both locations and a still-growing customer base, the Allen brothers work daily to carry on the concept their great-grandfather Dennis began so long ago.
“You hear businesses say it’s all about the customer, and from the perspective of Matt and I, it is all about the customer but it’s also all about the employee,” Drew says. “If you don’t have people to help you, there’s no way you’re going to make it. Our people are here day and night working their tails off, and we’re only closed a few hours a day. We try to take care of them as best we can, along with our customers.”
Taylor’s Bakery is located at 6216 Allisonville Road in Indianapolis, 317-251-9575, and 8395 East 116th Street in Fishers (317-596-2253). For more info visit taylorsbakery.com.