Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - It was clear something was different when a recent dinner at Mandina’s included Melba toast in plastic wrappers not with green lettering and the Turnbull Bakeries logo, but something out of Old London – or by that brand name at least.
The waiter later confirmed the news: Turnbull Bakeries, the 105-year-old, New Orleans-based makers of Melba toast, in both garlic rounds and traditional rectangular varieties, had quietly gone out of business - again.
Diners first had to go without, when company co-founder Elizabeth Turnbull died in 2010 and her small First Street bakery shut down. But just a few months later, Mrs. Turnbull’s son and granddaughters made headlines for reviving the company and passing it down to a fourth generation.
Now their website confirms they have closed the Lower Garden District bakery, first opened in 1907, and auctioned off its baking machinery.
“After over 100 years in the baking business, the Turnbull family has made the difficult decision to (end) our baking operations. Thank you for all of your support over the years,” the bakery’s website reads.
Calls and emails to the bakery telephone number and company website were not returned.
For more than 60 years, Turnbull’s Melba toasts, only sold commercially and not to retail customers, were a favorite in New Orleans neighborhood restaurants like Mandina’s, Liuzza’s by the Track, Ye Olde College Inn and many more.
The bakery, which had roots in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was founded by Francis Turnbull in a shotgun double on First Street, and originally focused on ice cream cones, according to a 2011 article by The Times-Picayune’s Judy Walker. In the 1940s, Mrs. Turnbull took over the operation, which also began packing baked goods for Nabisco, Kraft, Keebler and Lance.
After her death, the grandchildren, Katy and Whitney, both recent college graduates, moved to New Orleans, and revived the business in 2011. The company had planned to expand into the biscuit-baking business as well, saying it would create 30 new jobs with an overall payroll of $1 million, according to a news release from GNO, Inc. at the time.
The Turnbull website says an auction of bakery equipment took place last month.