The sign just off Nevada State Drive still bears the Wonder, Hostess, Dolly Madison and Millbrook logos.
The gated beige building behind looks desolate, with a single black Dumpster still hanging around in back. A couple of white Hostess delivery trucks with the namesake blacked out sit in the lot in back of the building, kept company by a half-dozen semi trailers.
As Twinkie and other Hostess sweets make their way back into retailers across the United States on Monday, the “sweetest comeback” still has a slightly bitter taste for some.
In mid-November, about 170 workers were employed at the Henderson bakery, with almost 100 more working in Hostess retail operations throughout Nevada.
All of them lost their jobs.
On the far side of the Henderson Hostess building, signs advertising Hostess shipping and receiving reveal what once was, but the abandoned docks tell the updated story. The building now matches the natural desert landscape that surrounds it, barren and reminiscent of a ghost town.
Eight months ago, this wasn’t the case.
In that time period, Amber Fleischer has seen a noticeable change in her business. Her Shell station directly across from the former bakery attracted about 200 people each week coming and going from the Hostess building, all to get gasoline or grab something to eat. Since the closure, Fleischer said she hasn’t seen one of those employees back in the area.
Zakary Webster, manager of Remedy’s across the street, said the closure hasn’t affected his bar business at all. The former Hostess employees came in sporadically, but nothing steady that would have a lasting effect.
“The most business I got out of them was the day they closed. They all came in and drank. They were all talking about how they were having to move out of town to find work,” Webster said. “It was really depressing, a sad situation.”
As the reformed Hostess relaunches, only four of the 11 plants nationwide will reopen. The former bakery in Henderson isn’t one of them.
In November, Hostess spokeswoman Anita-Marie Laurie said a “small crew” was preparing the facility for sale.
The Clark County Assessor’s site still lists Interstate Brands Corp., or Hostess, as the property owner. The company purchased the 22.69-acre parcel in 2002 from Levi Strauss & Co. for $6.3 million.
A request for information about the Henderson building from Hostess went unanswered.
Don’t expect any Hostess outlet stores to reopen either. The brand’s new owner, C. Dean Metropoulos, didn’t purchase the roughly 600 outlet stores that Hostess used to operate, because he said those competed with nearby convenience stores selling the items at full price.
Back inside the Shell station, a Hostess sign still hangs above a bread stand, but the cakes underneath the sign bear generic brand names. Fleischer said she wants to order the real thing when she can, but hasn’t heard anything about ordering from the new Hostess.
“Customers are already asking us when we’re going to get them. So as soon as we can, we’ll get them in for our customers,” Fleischer said. “I’m sure they’ll love to have the true Hostess back.”
Hostess is rolling its product out across the country this weekend to major stores in preparation for Monday’s relaunch. Local Smith’s stores will receive initial pallet displays for each location to contain an assortment of Twinkies, Cupcakes, Powdered donuts and Chocolate donuts. All of those will arrive in stores by July 15.
The following week Smith’s will start receiving 11 multipack products and single-serve items, such as the fruit pies.
“Las Vegas is one of the top-selling markets in the country for the Hostess products,” said Marsha Gilford, spokeswoman for Smith’s Food & Drug Stores. “We anticipate people are going to be very excited.”
She said the brand has an Americana appeal to it that translates to a strong market share.
At Vons, Hostess products, including single-serve and multipack Twinkies, will begin arriving at stores over this weekend. Items to be sold include cupcakes and donuts, as well as Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs and Zingers.
Outside the Albertsons at Horizon and College drives, shopper Shelly Clark said she’s excited to taste a real Twinkie again, although she hadn’t eaten one in a long time before they went away.
“I will definitely buy a couple for me and my family,” she said.
Another shopper, Marco Flores, and a friend were coming out of the same store and said they really didn’t care about Hostess’ plans, but if they were hungry and saw their products in a store they might buy them.
“I’m not going to run out and get one, but I do know some people who will,” Flores said.
For the record, the cupcakes are Flores’ favorite anyway, not that yellow cake.
Across town the Hostess Bakery Outlet space at 4348 E. Craig Road is still vacant, roughly eight months after the store closed. Empty, white store shelves and the Hostess sign on the shopping center’s marquee are all that remain.
Jessica Hardy’s Goodfellas Pizzeria opened in March next to the space vacated by Hostess on Craig Road. It replaced another pizza place in the center.
“I know that we would have been busier if they were still here,” Hardy said.
Commercial broker Bruce Parker said that when Hostess filed its bankruptcy last year, the East Craig retail outlet was making money. The 2,500-square-foot space is still vacant. Parker said he’s had some interest, but nothing serious.
“That center was booming. It was 100 percent full. The pizza place and the smoke shop were greatly affected. Right now it’s just kind of slow. There’s still a draw with the check-cashing people, but it was booming before that happened,” Parker said.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.