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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Davis Austrian pastry cafe closing on Feb. 26 after 32 years of business

Konditorei owners plan to relax and enjoy their oncoming retirement

By RACHEL SHEY city@theaggie.org

Konditorei, a Davis mainstay for the past 32 years, is closing on Feb. 26. The pastry shop is an Austrian establishment, founded by Albert and Gloria Kutternig. The Kutternigs are retiring after decades of working at the pastry shop. They are looking forward to relaxing during their retirement, particularly attending evening concerts, an activity that was largely restricted during their pastry-making days due to early morning starts. 

“It would be nice just to say that I’m not doing anything today, tomorrow,” Gloria said. “Yes, it’s kind of like reclaiming our freedom just to do things to concentrate on ourselves. For 32 years we dedicated our lives to the business and the community. We’ve been a part of Davis, weddings, birthdays, reunions, just get-togethers. We were always there for everyone’s dessert needs.”

Konditorei is actually a descriptive name for a type of business, according to Albert. Like how a boulangerie in France bakes bread and a patisserie bakes pastries. Konditoreis bake pastries only, not bread. 

“In the German language, Konditorei is a pastry shop,” Gloria said. “It literally means sugar bakery. A Backerie would only sell bread. We go by the European standards. In German speaking countries, the Backerie is different from the Konditorei.”

Albert started training as a pastry chef when he was 14 years old. In Austria, students train for four days of the week as pastry chefs and go to school for two days, making up a six day workweek. Afterwards, he worked at many other locations before coming to America and founding Konditorei. 

“I worked at Hilton and Intercontinental and then I ended up in America,” Albert said. “I pretty much worked all over the world. Austria is a small country, and I just fell in love with America.” 

The Kutternigs came to California because Gloria’s parents lived in San Francisco, but Konditorei was founded in Davis because that was where Albert found his opportunity. 

“My wife, her parents lived in San Francisco and when we got our green card in Austria, we moved to California because of our parents, but we ended up in Davis, this was not planned really,” Albert said. “If you’re not from America, you have no credit history. I couldn’t get a loan to open my shop. This means I was teaching for three months and in the school I met somebody who wanted to sell his little shop in Davis.” 

The Kutternigs transformed a French bakery into an Austrian Konditorei. Contemplating the success of the business, Albert emphasized that the process is more important than the actual ingredients. 

“To work in a pastry shop or to produce something, it’s not only important what you produce, it’s also important how you produce it, to make money,” Albert said. “When you open a business, or to work, it’s actually more important, how you produce, how efficiently you work, and how you manage everything, than to have a good recipe.”

Gloria’s favorite dessert is the Layla Torte, which is named after the couple’s youngest daughter. It is a cake made out of marzipan cream and pure marzipan. Albert is a fan of Eric Clapton; both the cake and the daughter are named after the Eric Clapton song. 

The Kutternigs are proud of their success in Davis and are happy to have been able to serve the community for so long. Coming to America unlocked many opportunities for them. 

“It has been for myself and Albert and Konditorei staff, it has been an honor to serve the Davis community for 32 years,” Gloria said. “Most of all, a big thank you to this country, the United States of America, for giving us this opportunity. Being immigrants from two different countries — I was born and raised in the Philippines, and Albert was born and raised in Austria — and having come to America as immigrants, I cannot thank the USA enough for giving us this fantastic opportunity.”

Written by: Rachel Shey — city@theaggie.org

3 COMMENTS

  1. Konditorei and the Kutternigs will be VERY sorely missed. I only wish that Albert & Gloria new another Austrian master baker to whom they might have sold the business, so that we who patronized Konditerei for all or some of those 32 years would not have to suffer without! Still, thanks to the Kutternig family for the decades of true, delicious excellence!

    By the bye, Albert, Gloria & Layla might be amused and pleased to know that Eric Clapton based “Layla”, “I Am Yours”, and the album title on the 12th century Persian poet Nizami’s legend-based tale of the young maiden Layla and her poverty-struck lover. Google it! 😉

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