CHICAGO (CBS) — After 88 years in business, a popular bakery in Andersonville was closing for good on Tuesday, but not until serving up one last batch of paczki for Mardi Gras.
Swedish Bakery has been a sweet staple at Clark and Balmoral for generations, but Tuesday will be the last day customers can buy one of their famous coffee cakes, sweet rolls, cookies, or other pastries.
Dennis Stanton said his fellow co-owners are 60 and older, and there is no next generation waiting to take over the business. That and changing lifestyles mean, after all the delicious cakes and paczki are gone, Swedish Bakery will close for the last time.
Swedish Bakery has seen a 15 percent decline in customers in the last 10 years, with many shoppers instead opting for the convenience of buying their cookies and cakes the same place they get their coffee or other groceries.
“It’s easier just going to one location … the grocery store, and people are pressed for time,” Stanton said.
Jose Lopez was first in line at the bakery Tuesday morning, arriving around 2 a.m., waiting until 6:30 for the shop to open.
“I’m nuts about the fruitcake,” he said.
Customers and employees alike said they were sad to see the end of an era in Andersonville.
Lucille DeKasha, 80, has worked at the bakery for more than 40 years, even longer than the current owners who bought the business in 1979.
“Today’s very sad. I feel like crying. Very sad; I’ll miss the customers. The family is my second family,” she said. “It’s like therapy for me. We talk, we laugh, and it’s beautiful. So I’ll miss all that.”
The bakery has said it will reach out to its competitors to try and secure jobs for its current workforce of about 40. As for what will happen to the building, that hasn’t been determined.