ButterKrust Bakery on Broadway Reborn as C.H. Guenther and Son

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By Jessica Mattsson

If you grew up in San Antonio, there is a good chance you knew all about the ButterKrust Bakery on Broadway. You probably passed it countless times in the family automobile, windows rolled down to allow the aroma of fresh-baked bread to waft inside. Maybe your introduction came during a school field trip when bakery employees would give visiting students a ruler,  pencil, and a warm, flaky piece of bread.

In 1912, William Louis Richter purchased the existing ButterKrust franchise and saw it flourish with the use of advanced, assembly line machinery at the new Broadway location. The ButterKrust Bakery thrived for years, producing hundreds of thousands of bread loaves a day until 1994, when Flowers Industries bought out the company. In 1997, grain production ceased on Broadway, but Richter’s name was not forgotten. The Richter Math-Engineering Center, built in 1968 at San Antonio’s St. Mary’s University, was named for the William L. Richter family, which funded its construction. At least four generations of Richters have attended the school.

The Original ButterKrust Bakery building. Photo courtesy of C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.

The original ButterKrust building remained as well, but had started to fade into mere memory. San Antonio natives wondered what would become of the beloved bakery on Broadway. There was talk of SAWS establishing its new headquarters there along the San Antonio River, but the water utility instead relocated to the former Valero headquarters on U.S. 281 and Mulberry. In 2005, C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc., one of the oldest family owned companies in the United States, stepped in and acquired the old bread bakery and announced plans to redevelop the building into its new headquarters. The Pearl also was beginning to come back, thanks to Silver Ventures, but no one saw what Broadway would become by 2012 when C.H. Guenther moved into its newly opened headquarters.

The company, best known as Pioneer Flour Mills, sees the move as the latest chapter in a rich narrative that goes back to the mid-19th century. The company was founded in 1851 in Fredericksburg by Carl Hilmar Guenther, who later relocated to San Antonio. The  mill, an iconic landmark in the King William district was once the tallest structure in the city. Pioneer, however, is a very different company today with operations across the United States and in Europe, and a diverse line of food products distributed internationally.

The iconic Pioneer Flour Mill tower in historic King William. (Photo courtesy of the blog, ‘Traveling with the Longdogs’.)

C.H. Guenther chose R.L. Worth & Associates to lead the “Bakery on Broadway” redevelopment project.  The goal was to maintain the original integrity and history of the ButterKrust building while creating a brand new look for C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.

Exterior of new C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. headquarters on Broadway

The redevelopment represents the company’s growth and an investment in its employees. C.H. Guenther & Son has come a long way from the faded yellow walls at its original location. The new space offers amenities such as larger work stations and a state-of-the-art test kitchen. Inside the communal break room, employees can eat, relax, and watch (and second guess) golfers hacking away at neighboring Brackenridge Golf Course.  An exercise facility offers a place to work out right on site, no excuses.  More than anything, the new space communicates pride.

Bakery on Broadway. (Photo courtesy of C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.)

The Midtown/River North neighborhood is growing and evolving. Apartments and condominiums are rising all along Broadway, and the historic Pearl Brewery, located minutes away, hosts a popular farmers’ market every Saturday, and a growing number of places to eat, drink and commune. The Pearl is now home to the Culinary Institute of America, teeming with future leaders of innovation in food service. C.H. Guenther & Son stands right in the middle of it all.

C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. new headquarters

So next time you are in the bustling Pearl District, drop by C.H. Guenther & Son’s new headquarters and see the beautiful Bakery on Broadway for yourself – truly history in the baking.

Jessica Mattsson works for C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @BenchmarkBrand.  You can also read her blog, Benchmark Brands, which recognizes forward-thinking companies differentiating their brand via innovative strategies.

35 thoughts on “ButterKrust Bakery on Broadway Reborn as C.H. Guenther and Son

  1. I had no idea about the history of CH Gunther’s new building! Love hearing stories of the redevelopment of old structures. In such close proximity to the Pearl, the park, and downtown, it is certainly prime real estate.

    • Anna –

      The Guenther House restaurant still resides in the old location, right by the Mill. 205 E Guenther San Antonio, TX 78204

      You can go shopping while you wait in the store with some great finds!

  2. Love it love it love it! I visited the Buttercrust building when I was in kindergarten and remember walking out while munching on a piece of white Buttercrust bread with butter on top. Thanks for highlighting a piece of SA history along with the what’s going on today!

  3. Jessica, You’ve struck a nerve with your story. Nice job. A lot of people have a lot of good memories. I suggest you and your colleagues at C.H. Guenther revive the building tours and give us something good to eat on the way out. A whole new generation of memories to be created…

  4. Ahhhhh, the memories. I was not here as a kid to enjoy the tour but I always liked driving by and seeing (and smelling) the bread as it went by inside the big windows facing Broadway. That visual has stuck with me and is the inspiration for a part of my new brewery where you will be able to look from the streetside and see the bottles of beer going by on the packaging line.

    They have done a great job with the re-development of the building. As a neighbor I say welcome to the neighborhood.

    • Eugene! Thanks for the comment, and for reading. I love that the ButterKrust building provided inspiration for Alamo Beer and I am eager to visit your brewery!! You must be so proud!

      Good to have you nearby, neighbor!

  5. Hey Jessica, Home sick today and looked at the GH facebook page and found this. Great job. Nice to see we are moving to the 21st century with our media as well!

  6. It’s difficult to post all the great memories of the old bakery, to numerous and emotional. My grandfather Herman Richter use to take me to work with him in the morning, when visiting. I was about 7 years old. I’m simply writing to express my gratitude for what you’ve done to restore it. It’s a beautiful building. Thank you, Bernard T Richter, Jr

  7. In 1960, I bought a house in Mahncke Park while I worked at Pearl Brewery and the mile and a half trip to work & back, each day, caused me to pass the bakery twice a day. Such wonderful aroma wafted to all who passed & I enjoyed it twice each day.

  8. My mother, two brothers and one sister took a family photograph advertising Butter Krust bread in the 60s. The picture appeared in a San Antonio new paper. I still enjoy looking at the picture however it is a copy from the news paper. It’s been about 50 years and we are all still alive, retired and doing well. I was about 5 years old at the time of the photograph.

  9. I lived down the street from the bakery in the 40s. Where would that have been? The delicious smell was unbelievable!

  10. My father was in the grocery business. I do remember Richter’s Butter Krust bread and products, and they were all so good. I do remember Miss Gingham on the bread wrappers as well as her being mounted to tire rims to control school traffic and parking areas. Those were wonderful days in my opinion.

  11. The Butter Krust Bread Company was the field trip of all field trips in Elementary, Middle School, and yes High School. Always look forward to the hot buttery treat at the end of the tour. Thank you for bringing back good memories. In the late 1960’s early 70’s my family was selected to represent the Butter Krust company family of the month (I believe)…I still have the picture (framed) that was taken with a loaf of Butter Krust Bread “profiling” on the coffee table. Priceless!

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