Local bakery celebrates a sweet 65 years
A colorful array of cookies, donuts and pastries fill the display case in the small bakery on North Seventh Street. For generations, customers have lined up to make a selection from the timeless treats that satisfy the craving for mom’s baking.
Home Style Bakery turns 65 this June.
In 1976, Walt Schultz and Al Troester, founders of the bakery, passed ownership to Don and Jan Wilke. The original shop, opened in 1948, employed five people. Today there are triple the staff members.
Jan said owning the bakery fulfilled a dream of her husband’s.
“My husband worked in a bakery in the Chicago-area from the time he was 16. It fulfilled a goal of his to own a bakery. We were able to really run with it, and serve the public and make people happy,” Jan said.
The bakery achieved success despite the changing economy. It outlasted Black Sunday, the infamous day the bottom fell out of the Grand Junction economy in the 1980s.
Jan said their biggest challenge through the years has been finding experienced bakers to work in their shop. She said finding trained bakers in Western Colorado was tough. Most skilled bakers reside in larger city’s such as Chicago. She had to hire food service workers who were willing to learn.
The Wilke’s plan to celebrate the bakery’s “birthday” with specials on customers’ favorite treats this month. There will be cake samples and treats at 65 cents.
“We want to make it a fun month as a way of thanking our customers, especially the ones who have grown-up with the bakery,” Jan said.
The employees of Home Style embrace the tradition of the local business. Kassandra Hedgecock said she started working at the bakery last August because she frequented the shop since age four.
“It’s wonderful that there’s still places that have been around that long. It adds to the culture of the city,” Hedgecock said.
Jan said she is satisfied with the family tradition the bakery has founded. She enjoys knowing her regular customers’ names and continually making them pleased to visit her business.
“I can’t imagine a big box kind of place having that connection with people,” she said.