One morning when we were walking along the streets of downtown Paducah, we came across a coffee shop and we decided to go in and get a couple espressos. It turned out the coffee shop - Etcetera2 (Squared) - was attached to a somewhat historic bakery - Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli. We had espresso and a couple pastries in the morning, then went back later on and had a couple of sandwiches for lunch.
Kirchhoff's Bakery has a history that stretches back to the early 1870's. Franz Kirchhoff had immigrated to the U.S. from Prussia and ended up in the river town of Paducah. Along with his young bride, Hannah, they opened a store that sold food stuff and dry goods to travelers up and down the Ohio River. In 1873, they decided to open a bakery offering fresh breads to the travelers and townsfolk. The Kirchhoff's used an Old World-style wood-fired oven to bake breads using family recipes that were handed down through generations. They lived above the bakery and when the boats whistles would sound along the river bank, Franz would haul his fresh baked bread down to the boat landing and sell them directly off his cart.
Franz and Hannah's son, Frank, would eventually take over the bakery and it grew in both size and in reputation for having some of the best baked goods in the region. Frank's son, Louis, then took over the business becoming the third generation of the family to run the place. In 1952, a devastating fire gutted the bakery. It was at that time that Louis Kirchhoff decided to walk away from the business. With the help of co-workers, Kirchhoff's Bakery was rebuilt and reopened. However, in 1957 the bakery was sold to a regional baking company and the business was eventually shut down. The building where the bakery used to be was used as warehouse space for a number of years after that.
After Louis Kirchhoff, Sr. sold the place, Louis, Jr. took a decidedly different path than baking - he graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in engineering. Out of college, he worked for a couple of Paducah area companies before starting his own civil engineering consulting firm. In 1996, Louis, Jr's son, Reece, informed him that the old Kirchhoff's Bakery building was now in the hands of the City of Paducah. Along with Reece's sister, Ginny, the two talked their father into buying the building and rehabbing it in hopes of resurrecting the bakery. Ginny Kirchhoff, fresh out of college, went to Sullivan University in Louisville to get her professional baking degree. After extensive remodeling, the Kirchhoff's reopened the bakery in 1997. Ginny Kirchhoff was 23 years old - the same age her great-great grandfather was when he originally opened the bakery.
One of their first employees was Josh Ryan, a young man just out of high school. He had some restaurant experience, but knew little to nothing about baking. Ryan did a little bit of everything - he was the de facto carpenter, plumber, painter, lifter, sifter, and mechanic, all the while learning the art of baking under Ginny Kirchhoff. He eventually became the chief baker at Kirchhoff's and became a partner in the business with the Kirchhoff's.
Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli is located in the Market House Square area of downtown Paducah. (see map) But it was the quaint little coffee shop that adjoins the bakery - Etcetera2 - that brought us into the businesses that one Saturday morning.
Allen Rhodes, Jr. moved to Paducah during his junior year of high school in 1966 after his father, Allen Rhodes, Sr., had purchased a local Ford automobile dealership. The younger Rhodes later graduated from Southern Methodist with a degree in marketing and moved back to Paducah to help his father with the car dealership. One of the first things Allen, Jr. did was convince his father to look into getting the franchise rights to sell Honda cars which had started to gain a foothold across the nation in the early 70's. After that, Allen Rhodes, Jr. convinced his father to pursue BMW for a franchise.
Becoming a Chrysler and eventually a Hyundai dealer, the Rhodes worked side by side for 26 years before selling their dealerships (Chrysler/Hyundai and BMW/Honda) to employees. Allen Rhodes, Jr.'s wife, Johanna, was a teacher at the same high school that Rhodes graduated from - Tilghman High School. She convinced her husband to come to work at the school as sort of an "everyman" filling in where he was needed.
Rhodes loved that job, but after 10 years he wanted to do something else. Seeing a need for a little coffee shop in the LowerTown Arts District of Paducah, the Rhodes family (along with their daughter, Jean) opened Etcetera Coffee House on N. 6th St. in 2006 (see map) They featured organic and free trade coffees and teas, as well as bagels, yogurts and oatmeal on their limited food menu. Allen and Johanna Rhodes eventually moved above the coffee shop. (Allen Rhodes, Jr. is also a city commissioner (councilman) and mayor Pro-Tem for the city of Paducah.)
In 2010, the Rhodes' were approached by Josh Ryan and Ginny Kirchhoff-Elmore to have a second location as part of the bakery's in-house coffee bar. Two weeks later - after extensive renovations to the building - Etcetera2 (Squared) opened for business.
Actually, Etcetera2 is in the back of what is a clothing boutique next to Kirchhoff's Bakery. I don't know if Cindy wandered in because of the clothes or because she wanted an espresso. But we ended up getting a couple of the Cubano espressos - the beans were pressed with sugar. They were excellent.
After getting our Cubano espressos, we went over through the opening in the wall to Kirchhoff's Bakery. There we found a case full of all different types of pastries, cookies, cupcakes and rolls. In a refrigerated case along the wall, they had a number of artisan cheeses to choose from. By this time in the morning (around 10:30) they had run out of cinnamon rolls, much to my dismay, and they were also out of lemon bars. But they had an orange/raspberry scone that Cindy wanted and I ended up getting a surprisingly good piece of flaky and delicious baklava.
In the bakery, they had a couple racks of fresh baked breads near a prep area for orders. The smell of the fresh bread was absolutely fabulous. If it weren't for the distance (six hours between Paducah and home), and the fact that we were leaving the next day, we would have gotten a loaf of bread to take home.
After finishing our espresso and treats, we took some time walking along Paducah's historic riverfront. Looking across the Ohio River is Illinois. Just to the right in the panoramic shot above is the mouth of the Tennessee River. Beyond that is a large port that specializes in tugboat repairs. It was a cool, yet comfortable morning along the river and we lingered for a moment to take in the sights.
There's a long flood wall that protects Paducah from the Ohio River. (They had water marks on downtown buildings from previous floods that were well above our heads.) They have a number of murals depicting the history and events of Paducah over the years. It was similar to a flood wall mural we saw in Portsmouth, OH on a trip we took up the Ohio River a number of years ago.
After doing some shopping and hanging out around the downtown area, we ended up going back to Kirchhoff's to get a sandwich. When we were there earlier, we sat in their dining area having our espresso and eating the scone and baklava. We got to looking at the menu that they had for their deli and thought that it would be nice to come back and try a sandwich.
They had a myriad of sandwiches to choose from at Kirchhoff's Deli. They had both grilled deli sandwiches that included a grilled pimento cheese (made in house) and bacon sandwich, a tuna melt that sounded good, and a Cuban-sandwich that they said they made with their version of Cuban bread. I was leaning in that direction.
For classic deli sandwiches, they had selections such as a New York style corned beef and Swiss sandwich on housemade Jewish rye bread, a medium-rare roast beef sandwich with Swiss cheese on the Jewish rye bread, and a classic BLT served on Kirchhoff's famous "Big Boy" bread. (The picture above right is the logo for their "Big Boy" bread.)
When we went up to the counter to order and Cindy ordered a quarter of a muffuletta sandwich. The guy behind the counter said that they were out of the Italian round bread they make the muffulettas out of and wanted to know if it was OK that they make it with their sliced French bread. Cindy said that would be fine. She got a small side of their pasta salad to go with her sandwich.
When it was my turn to order, I asked the guy if the Cuban bread they had was truly the sweet tasting Cuban bread. He said, "Well, no. It's really not. It's basically the same French bread that we're going to make her sandwich out of." I quickly changed directions and went with the classic New Yorker - the corned beef and Swiss on Jewish rye topped with sliced red onions and a dijon mustard.
And I'm glad I got it. First of all, the Jewish rye bread was just outstanding. It was piled high with corned beef and although I was a bit worried that the sliced red onions and dijon mustard would overpower the taste of the sandwich. But with the great flavor from the bread and the excellent corned beef they used, it turned out the onions and mustard were a great compliment to the sandwich. This was a very good sandwich for 6 bucks and change.
Cindy's pseudo-muffuletta sandwich was pretty much the same thing as having one, only on lightly grilled sliced French bread. It was piled high with ham and salami topped with provolone cheese and an olive salad. She has had muffulettas before and she said that even with the French bread instead of the Italian round bread this was a good sandwich. And to top it off it was only $5 bucks. This was a very good value - a lot of food for the money, that's for sure.
First of all, we have to let you know that we really enjoyed the Cuban espresso from Etcetera2. It was so good that before we left Paducah the next morning we went to the original Etcetera in Lowertown to get a couple more to help boost us down the road toward home. Both places were great little coffee houses.
But the experience at Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli was very nice. Between the baked goods, the fresh breads and the excellent deli sandwiches, the people of Paducah have to count themselves lucky that the fifth generation of Kirchhoff's - as well as Josh Ryan - are keeping the family's baking legacy alive. The sandwiches we had were a great value and they tasted very good. For a lunch on a whim, Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli was a great choice and one that we didn't regret.