When French pastry chef Henri Fiscus opened his namesake bakery in 1929, chances are he never dreamed it would stay in his family for 90 years. But this Saturday, his great-grandson, current Henri’s owner Anthony DiNardo, will celebrate just that. The bakery and deli known for its iconic shortbread cookies with a singular dot of frosting in the center, among many other baked delights, will commemorate the occasion with $0.90 po’ boy sandwiches at all three Henri’s locations (Buckhead, Sandy Springs, and Upper Westside), plus music and giveaways from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be face painting, cookie-decorating stations, plus a toast and cake-cutting at the Buckhead location at 11:30 a.m. The events are free and open to the public.
“As a kid, I remember going into the bakery and getting the shortbread cookies,” DiNardo says. “It’s great that it’s still in the family.”
We spoke to DiNardo about Henri’s history—and plans for the next 90 years.
How did Henri’s come to be?
My great-grandfather Henri Fiscus worked in restaurants in New York. He came to Atlanta to work as pastry chef at the Biltmore Hotel and then decided to go into business for himself. He bought a bakery downtown and changed the name to Henri’s. It was on Peachtree, then Piedmont, and eventually settled in Buckhead on Irby Avenue. The Sandy Springs location opened in 1988 or ’90. When I purchased the business in 2016 [from my aunts, uncle, and mother], Henri’s owned the land it [was on] in Buckhead. They were getting toward retirement and had a really generous offer from a developer. I moved it to East Andrews and bought a building on the Upper Westside to become the production facility.
How did you choose the East Andrews location?
I thought it was really important to stay in the neighborhood. We have such a great loyal customer base in the area, and we were able to preserve the historic sign.
What are some of your favorite moments at Henri’s?
The old, historic sign getting put up and turned on was really special to me. I was trying to find a way to tie the history of the business with the present. There was no better way to do it.
Also, the day we opened on the Westside we had people waiting 40 minutes in a line out the door. Seeing that support was really special.
Do you bake?
I’m halfway through training with our back of house team to learn how to make everything we offer. My goal is to better understand our business and be able to make good decisions moving forward. I want the ability to do whatever it takes at any given time to help our team be successful. Last week I went in at 5 p.m. to train on our breads and help with the nightshift. I left around 1 in the morning.
What do you think is the secret to Henri’s longevity?
Maintaining a quality product and putting customers first. I would love to see Henri’s go for another 90 years.
How does Henri’s help families to connect?
It’s not uncommon to see multigenerational customers at our lunch tables. A grandparent comes with their grown kids who have memories of going there and are now bringing in their kids. It’s a great place to reminisce and tell stories.
We have photos of my great-grandfather in all three locations, and it’s not uncommon to see my mom or my aunt in the stores. Two of my sisters work for me now. You’ll see one of us almost every time you go in.
What’s your day-to-day involvement in the business now?
My role is keeping consistency and level of quality up. Right now, I’m really active in looking for new avenues to grow our business whether it’s retail, a food truck, or an online platform. By [early] next year, we’ll start shipping some products cross-country. We’ll start with shortbread cookies, packaged cheese straws, and mini cookies. Eventually, we’ll expand to loaf cakes and other items.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m getting ready to launch a food truck in six weeks. We’ll do weddings, catering events, and festivals. It’ll be heavily sandwiches but will also have bakery case built into the truck. I think of it as a mini Henri’s on wheels.
I definitely want to be in Brookhaven because I live over there. I’m looking to expand our production facility next year, too.