Tic Toc, the Arcade Bakery, & Kaufmann’s Department Store

Started in 1871 as a men’s tailoring and ready-to-wear shop on Carson St. on Pittsburgh’s South Side, Kaufmann’s expanded both in size and in the variety of merchandise it carried after moving downtown a few years later. Referred to by the 1890s as, “The Big Store,” Kaufmann’s took up much of the Smithfield block between Fifth and Diamond St. (now Forbes Ave.).

Sign that used to hang in the Kaufmann's Department story employee's cafeteria.
Sign that used to hang in the Kaufmann’s Department story employee’s cafeteria.

While Kaufmann’s displayed a vast selection of consumer goods, the store also boasted an impressive array of food services, dedicating significant floor space to this endeavor. Over the years, many eateries came and went at Kaufmann’s, from the white linen Forbes Room to the S.R.O. (Standing Room Only) hot dog stand. The 13th floor housed a large employee cafeteria that fed the staff. On the 11th floor, three restaurants – Michael’s, Edgar’s, and the Forbes Room – shared a central kitchen. There were snack bars in the basement and candy, ice cream, and coffee stands spread throughout the store. When Macy’s took over in 2006, they kept two of the more iconic establishments open – the Tic Toc restaurant and the Arcade Bakery.

The Tic Toc opened in 1955 as part of a grand expansion that took Kaufmann’s from 753,505 sq. ft. to 1,158,852. New amenities included a smoking lounge, larger rest rooms, “tot-toters” (strollers), and expanded departments. A contemporary article detailing the more than $10,000,000 store expansion mentions a new eatery, the Tic Toc snack bar, which would become a Kaufmann’s staple. The name paid homage to the famous Kaufmann’s clock. The clock’s image decorated both the restaurant tables and menus and it became a popular lunch time spot best known for its tasty burgers and desserts.

The front page of the Tic Toc Restaurant menu, Kaufmann's Department Store.
The front page of the Tic Toc Restaurant menu, Kaufmann's Department Store. <em>Kaufmann’s Department Store Records, MSS 371, Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center.</em>
An inside page of the Tic Toc Restaurant menu, Kaufmann's Department Store.
An inside page of the Tic Toc Restaurant menu, Kaufmann's Department Store. <em>Kaufmann’s Department Store Records, MSS 371, Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center.</em>

For much of Kaufmann’s history, the store also featured a bakery on the arcade level. Their treats were made famous by bakers such as Stephen J. Vanderach, a native of Switzerland, who made baked goods at Kaufmann’s from 1941 to 1971. Eventually the arcade level bakery became known as the Arcade Bakery, most famous for its thumbprint cookies.

With the closing of Macy’s downtown store earlier this year, the city of Pittsburgh obtained the rights to both the Tic Toc and Arcade names. Perhaps we will see both of these famous institutions come back to life in some form in the future. In the meantime, the thumbprint cookie has now travelled to Prantl’s Bakery in Market Square, where former Kaufmann’s baker Kevin Ulrich is creating a look-alike version to satisfy customers who miss the sweet treat.

Clocks from the Tic Toc Restaurant at Kaufmann's Department Store
Clocks from the Tic Toc Restaurant at Kaufmann's Department Store.
Tables and chairs from the Tic Toc Restaurant at Kaufmann's Department Store, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Tables and chairs from the Tic Toc Restaurant at Kaufmann's Department Store, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The History Center recently worked with Macy’s to preserve artifacts from these iconic eateries including tables, chairs, clocks, mugs, and menus from the Tic Toc restaurant and an assortment of baking tools from the Arcade Bakery.

Museum curators are currently working on plans to feature some of the items in conjunction with the launch of the History Center’s new Visible Storage gallery in early 2016.

The front page of the Kaufmann's Bake Shop menu.
The front page of the Kaufmann's Bake Shop menu. <em>Kaufmann’s Department Store Records, MSS 371, Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center.</em>
Dinner menu, 1942, Kaufmann's Dining Room
Dinner menu, 1942, Kaufmann's Dining Room. <em>Kaufmann’s Department Store Records, MSS 371, Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center.</em>

Emily Ruby is a curator at the Heinz History Center.

9 thoughts on “Tic Toc, the Arcade Bakery, & Kaufmann’s Department Store

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for these memories. My mother and I went there often and later went there myself. I seem to remember eating at the TicToc when shopping for my baby’s layette in 1962! We bought nearly everything at Kaufmanns in those days (& Gimbels and Hornes) – my, time DOES fly. My grandma was a cosmetic’s department mgr. at Kaufmanns.

    You didn’t mention Vendome – their 11th floor restaurant and adjacent decorative object shop. Both were so special.
    Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for reviving many memories! My mother worked at Kaufmann’s in the late 50’s through the 60’s. Mom worked in the cosmetic department on the first floor. I’d meet her for a meal or snack or school clothes shopping as a kid. I miss those days but the memories live with me!

    1. Hi Jennifer! We do have a few images that you might like to take a look at. You can view them here and here. You can take a closer look at these if you visit the Library & Archives as well.

      Additionally, if you would like to learn more about what we have in our Kaufmann’s Department Store Collections, you can check out the finding aid for the collection

      1. I have fond memories of those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because my grandmother used to take me to Kaufmann’s in the mid 1960’s. As I recall, a “Kaufmann sandwich” was like a club sandwich except that it had peanut butter and jelly in each layer and then the crusts were cut off. The sandwich was quartered like a club sandwich and served with milk. My family moved away from Pittsburgh in ’69, but I ate those sandwiches well into the 70’s!

  3. My dad had two old white wooden chairs that have a small metal plate on them that say “kaufmann’s 5th Avenue pittsburgh” do you know what/where these would have been used at the store?

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