Thank you to Dyke Hendrickson for this wonderful story featuring Greta in the Newburyport News!
If seven is a lucky number, Greta Reineke was a lucky young woman when she migrated from Austria. “We came on 7-7-77,” Reineke said recently. “July 7, 1977. I will always remember that.”
Reineke is the owner of Greta’s Great Grains, a popular bakery and pastry shop on Pleasant Street. She is a fixture in the community today, but it has been a long vocational journey that actually started with her being one of the first physical-fitness mentors in this area.
“My husband, John, was from Germany, and I was from the Kitzbuhl area in Austria,” Reineke said, whose age she ascribed to be “of retirement age.”
“We had been children during the war, and when we started a family, we were still concerned about the security of the area, since the Soviet Union was so near and the Cold War was very much on people’s minds. We wanted our children to be safe.”
John was able to land a job on the North Shore, and Greta started her life in this area as a housewife taking care of the children. She soon was giving exercise classes at The Tannery. As a hobby, she did baking at a shop close by in the complex.
“My fitness students smelled my bread and pastries and started buying them,” Greta said with a smile. “Soon, I started looking for space to open a store. But I didn’t want to do wholesale. I wanted to meet and talk with customers. There was a storefront on Pleasant Street that was empty; I rented it, just about 16 years ago, and I started the business of selling breads, pastries and pies. No sugar, no fat. Just basic foods.”
Greta was a tennis player in those days, and one of here teammates lightheartedly made her an apron that said Greta’s Great Grains. “She gave it to me as a surprise, and I ended up using it as the name of the shop.”
The store, which employs five, has been a major success, even as competitors move in each year. On one wall is a large framed photo taken years ago of a woman baking bread in a huge outdoor oven in Austria.
“I love that photo because it reminds me of my old country and the people there. My mother ran a small country store and worked all the time. If I wanted to visit with her, I’d go to the store. So, I grew up behind a counter. Now, with Thanksgiving, this is a very busy time of year for me.
“I’m pleased we came to America — my children did well, and we were able to make good lives here. I have warm memories of both places — my early life in Europe and then settling here, starting the store and raising a family. But I do go back to Austria regularly to see family and friends. I want to keep ties there.”