Frank Donovan grew up as a boy at 91 Finborough Road, in the Walton section of Liverpool, England. He was born in 1933, and still remembers the Beatles kicking off their famous World Tour just a short distance from his home. Frank attended school and eventually began working on a bread delivery truck as a young man. (If you get a chance at one of the Celtic Festivals, ask Frank about the time his school's headmaster took him in front of the class and asked who had seen this boy in school this week. Very funny story...)
At the age of 15, Frank began working at the Adelphia Hotel in Liverpool, England as a commissary waiter. In the spring of 1951 he was given a chance of a lifetime and began working in the world renowned Gleneagles Hotel of Scotland in their posh banquet rooms.
In the winter of 1951, Frank was drafted in to the British Royal Army Ordinance Corps (R.A.O.C). In 1952, he was sent to Korea as part of the Royal British Army's involvment in the Korean War. Frank served proudly as a British soldier on the supply lines driving the British AEC Matadors and providing needs materials to the front line troops. After Korea Frank returned to England and was stationed in Southampton where his tour of duty ended.
Frank started working at Scott's Bakery in Liverpool in 1954 and worked there until being called back into Military Service in 1956. His unit was being sent to the Middle East as part of the British involvment in the Suez Crisis also known as the Tripartite Aggression. Once his tour of duty ended Frank returned to Scott's Bakery and continued to work there until 1958 when he left for the U.S. Frank bought a ticket aboard the RMS Sylvania heading to the United States of America, and made his way to a small town called Hamburg just outside Buffalo, NY.
When Frank arrived in the United States in March of 1958, the U.S. was in a depression. Work was hard to find and money was scarce, however he began making phone calls looking for any work he could find. He called a local moving company (Lincoln Moving and Storage, a North American Van Lines company) in Buffalo, NY and a wonderful lady named Isabelle suggested he come in to the office and fill out an application. He traveled to the office and read over the application, he noticed a question on the application that asked if he could drive a "semi". Frank thought to himself "what the heck is a 'semi'?". As he filled out the application, a story that his mother once told him came to mind, a story about Frank's grandfather who was a carpenter. She told Frank that one day during the depression in England he applied for a job and the person hiring him asked "have you ever built a staircase?". His grandfather had not built a staircase up until this point but said "yes" anyway and was awarded the job. Frank's mother told him his grandfather's motto was "to watch and learn from the other guys". Frank applied this motto to the "semi" question and checked a big YES to the question on his application. A few weeks later Frank was driving semi-tractor trailers from Buffalo to New York City and back again. Later on, Frank also drove for Sun Oil Co. and often thought of how that story changed his life.
Frank continued to work and make his way in the world and eventually opened his own driving school in 1965 as well as took over a Sunoco gas station lease. In 1971 Frank had the opportunity to look at a small busines in Philadelphia, PA named Howarth's Imports which baked and served Celtic Foods in the Philadelphia region. In 1972 he seized the opportunity and moved to Philadelphia, PA to continue his baking career that he started almost 20 years ago in Liverpool, England.
Frank took over Howarth's Imports and moved in the apartment above the store at 3216 N. Front St. in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. He could be found baking Pork Pies, Meat Pies and Bridies at all hours of the day and night. Shortly after taking over he decided to branch out a bit and began participating in Celtic Festivals up and down the East Coast of the United States. His first ever Celtic Festival was the Delco Scottish Games held in Newtown, PA where he was the sole vendor for the event. Word of mouth began to spread and Frank continued to receive and accept invitations to such Celtic Festivals as the Virginia Scottish Games in Alexandria, VA, the Central New York Scottish Games in Syracuse, NY, and the Bethlehem Scottish Games in Bethlehem, PA.
Frank met his wife Diane in 1980 and they married in 1987.They grew Howarth's Imports to include a secondary location in Elkins Park, PA. In 1983 the neighborhood in which the original Howarth's Imports resided began to see a decline in Irish, Socttish and English patrons. That section of the city overall seen an economic decline wich ultimately forced Frank and Diane to move all baking, shipping, and retail operations to the Elkins Park, PA facility and the store was named International Gourmet. The original store on Front Street was closed in 1984 and thus ended the name Howarth's Imports. The Elkins Park location continued to expand and later on included catering services. In 1998 Frank and Diane decided to take their products to the internet and the response was overwhelming. Frank and Diane continued to keep the retail store, the internet store, the catering services and the Celtic Festivals running until 2000. In August of 2000 the retail store was closed once again do to another neighborhood's demise. Frank and Diane also closed the internet store as the Celtic Festivals and Catering Services were occupying most of their time. Since 2000 the Celtic Festivals and the Catering Services continue to reach many individuals up and down the East Coast where you can purchase not only cooked Meat Pies and Bridies but frozen ones as well to help you get through till the next year's festival.
Over the last several years many of our customers have asked the almighty question which is "when are we going to be able to buy your products over the internet again all year round?" Well that question has been answered and in light of the thousands of requests we have agreed to provide our traditional Celtic baked products over the internet for you and your family to enjoy all year long.
We hope you appreciated our walk down memory lane and please stop back again and look for more updated information.