Back in the bread business

HENDRICKS – On Monday, Nov. 18, Don’s Bakery reopened under new management, much to the relief of the regulars at the long-time Hendricks institution.

Darold Laabs and Johnathan Lengkeek formed a partnership to buy the business and reopen after it had been closed for about three months.

Laabs grew up in Hendricks but had been living for 42 years in Luverne where he worked as an accountant for an implement shop before retiring and moving back to town six years ago.

Lengkeek is the owner of Cedric’s Restaurant, just down the street from the Bakery.

“The bakery was closed and everybody in the community was complaining, ‘Gee, it sure would be nice if somebody bought the place and reopened it,'” Laabs said. “So one day I met John and said why don’t we get started? We got ahold of (former owner) Cathy on Saturday, reached an agreement by Wednesday, and opened a week-and-a-half later.”

The bakery has always been a popular morning meeting place for Hendricks residents and was profitable when the previous owner closed it.

“I was washing windows at Cedric’s and Darold came up to me and said, ‘What about it?’ Lengkeek said. “As a business owner down the street I want to keep as many businesses in town as possible open. The bakery is in the center of the street and a lot of out-of-town people come here.”

Lengkeek had a practical interest in keeping the bakery open as well. His restaurant gets their dinner rolls and hamburger buns fresh from oven there.

Lengkeek said he figures with Laabs’ accounting background and his experience in the restaurant business they can keep the bakery profitable.

“I’m used to dealing with the ‘We need this, we need that’ coming up on short notice,” Lengkeek said.

They’ve also got the advantage of experienced staff. Connie Lacek has worked at the bakery 20 years through eight owners. Tammy Hanson has worked there off-and-on for 16 years. Both came back to work after a three-month layoff.

Asked what she did while the bakery was closed, Lacek said, “Not much, some yard work.”

Hanson said she caught up on her sleep.

“For bakery experience I had none,” Laabs said. “They taught me how to bake, how to wash dishes and now we’re having a great time.”

According to Lengkeek, the partners have hired a new manager who will begin work in a couple of weeks. Customers should expect some new products around Christmas.