Born & Bread: Rinkoff Bakery, east London

From humble beginnings over 100 years ago, Rinkoff Bakery in the East End now supplies businesses and people across the district with bread, cakes and its fast-selling Crodough.

Rinkoff Bakery was founded in 1911 by Hyman Rinkoff, who opened the first shop on Old Montague Street, east London. His family lived upstairs, and sundries were kept in the basement.

His son Max began working in the shop in the 1940s with his wife Sylvie. Their son Ray helped out in the school holidays, leaving school aged 15 and training at the borough polytechnic before joining the business full-time as a master baker.

His brother Derek joined in 1976 to help break the business into the wholesale market and their other brother Harvey joined in 1992 to head up wholesale.

The fourth generation has now come on board, with Derek’s eldest son Lloyd joining in 1985, and continuing to bake as well as handling logistics. Ray’s children Jennifer and Debs joined in 2007 and 2017 respectively, with Jennifer now leading social media and NPD while Debs handles customer enquiries.

The business has two retail stores: Jubilee Street, which now houses the main bakery following the compulsory purchase of the first shop on Old Montague Street; and Vallance Road, which it added in 1979 and is more of a deli-style café.

“Though both shops are busy, our main business is wholesale,” Jennifer Rinkoff explains.

Jennifer unofficially joined the business aged 12, when she would work on Sundays for pocket money. When she officially joined in 2007, she went to work early and helped the bakers clean and make muffins.

She also set up a Facebook page for the business, which has developed a loyal following of people reminiscing about visits to the shop with their parents and grandparents, and now with their own children.

While the firm has changed over the years, past favourites remain on the menu, says Jennifer. “We still make a lot of traditional Jewish bread recipes, such as bagels, challah and rye, as well as apple strudel, baked cheesecake and Danishes.” Other recipes have been adapted to keep up with trends: brioche hot dog and burger baps are now on the menu; and its sourdough has grown in popularity.

In 2013, the business launched the ‘Crodough’ – croissant dough fried like a doughnut – and sells a substantial number each day, selling out most days. Jennifer describes its introduction as “a real turning point” for the business.

Looking ahead, a third retail branch and opening a bakery school in one of the shops are mooted as future possibilities.

Timeline

1911: Rinkoff Bakery was founded by Hyman Rinkoff after he fled from Ukraine

1968: Current master baker Ray Rinkoff officially joins the business

1971: Business moves from Old Montague Street to its current site in Jubilee Street

1976: Ray’s brother Derek joins to break the business into wholesale

1979: Rinkoff expands with the purchase of a second retail shop on Vallance Road

1985: Derek’s son Lloyd joins, bringing the business into its fourth generation

2013: Rinkoff launches its ‘Crodough’

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