The East Nashville community suffered a heartbreaking loss in January when Sweet 16 Bakery co-owner Dan Einstein died in hospice care at age 61. Dan’s wife and business partner, Ellen Einstein, carried on, keeping the Lockeland Springs business running and serving the legendary Sweet 16th breakfast. sandwiches to customers everywhere. But in October, Ellen decided it was time for a new chapter. “Now after he’s gone, Dan is no longer by my side and it has become very difficult to carry on,” she wrote in a message to clients and friends of hers. “So, effective October 29, I will be closing Sweet 16th Bakery.”
But there was a silver lining to come. Soon the team behind Bill’s Sandwich Palace, the beloved East Side institution, announced that they will take over the building at the corner of 16th and Ordway in 2023, with Ellen Einstein as owner and inspiration. That news is certainly balm for East Siders who for nearly two decades have flocked to the Einsteins not just for delicious treats, sandwiches, salads, and even dog treats, but also for a sense of belonging. For 18 1/2 years, Sweet 16th was a true community hub, frequently donating portions of the proceeds to good causes and performing selfless acts, like handing out those unique breakfast sandwiches to volunteers in the aftermath of the devastating March 2020 tornado in Nashville. . Dan and Ellen were also consistently offering great advice and great conversation, and sometimes adding an extra gift to a loyal customer’s order at no cost – my girlfriend and I were the recipients of the Einsteins’ profound kindness on many occasions.
The outpouring of support that followed the Sweet 16th closing announcement proves that I am just one of many grateful Nashvilleans who will remember Dan and Ellen’s generosity for many years to come. Still, let me say it clearly: To the Einsteins and their staff, thank you. To Ellen, to a long, peaceful and rewarding retirement. Even more than we’ll miss ordering “one to go,” we’ll miss seeing you and Dan behind the counter.
-D. patrick rodgers
Chief editor, Nashville scene