(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness

Joy's Sedro-Woolley
Bakery Cafe

Celebrating 100 years of Sedro-Woolley bakeries
on Metcalf street in historic downtown Sedro-Woolley
Tue-Fri 6 a.m.-3 p.m . . . .Sat & Sun 7-2 . . . Monday closed

(Metcalf street)
      This photo was taken in about 1949, looking north on Metcalf street. The photographer was standing in the middle of State street, which then the southern end of Metcalf. You can see the Cascade Cafe and Bakery sign at the right, just north of the J.C. Penney store, which was located in the building now occupied by Bus Jungquist Furniture. Did one of those cars belong to you or someone in your family? Wouldn't you love to have that sleek convertible parked by the cafe?

(Esben photo)
Esben Hansen's edro-Woolley Bakery in 1974. Back then the bakery was only in the northern half of the present building, with Bob Mahaffie's butcher shop in the south half.

      Visitors as well as residents agree on one thing: every small historic town needs a bakery where people can meet and greet and smell those wonderful aromas of fresh bread and pastry. Janet Joy and family have literally saved Sedro-Woolley in this department twice when our Sedro-Woolley bakery was on the wane. They offer both the atmosphere and the tastes and aromas that make people feel happy every morning.
      Back when Woolley was an infant town in 1890 and through the early years of the 20th century, there were three or four bakeries most of the time. That was the era before grocery stores carried fresh bread and before good roads enabled giant bakeries to supply fresh bread and pastry from a distance away. The most famous of the early bakeries was the Pigg family bakery that reigned from about 1904-05 to 1929. We discovered recently that W.B. Pigg and sons may have invented the maple bar at their State street bakery, under the name of the "Shingle Bolt." In their last ten years, the family concentrated on wholesale baking, so another bakery rose and excelled and that was the birth of what is now the Joy family's Sedro-Woolley bakery.
      When the great July 24, 1911, fire roared through Metcalf street, only the stone bakery oven stood at the back of the building's ruins by the alley. The story in the Skagit County [Sedro-Woolley] Times of July 27 that year lists the owner as A.B. Campbell, who bought the bakery from Mescher in 1907 when the latter moved to Everett. The building was then owned by Arthur C. Seidell, whose namesake building a half block north escaped the fire.
      Those were rich times in town and merchants wasted no time in replacing the buildings, this time with brick to satisfy the insurance carriers. Five fires had visited old Woolley from 1890-1911 but the latter one was by far the worst. By 1913, a brick building housed the Vienna Bakery again on the same lot. The same 1939 story noted that Mescher returned to town sometime in the teens and took over the business again when Campbell moved to Anacortes and operated a bakery there. A fading photo from an old newspaper shows Oscar Strand serving Sedro Ice Company ice cream behind the counter in 1921; ice cream was a big item in those flapper days. Mescher then sold the business to Ray Leeman in 1922; Leeman may have operated it as the Spanish Castle. The Skagit Baking Company bought the bakery in 1930.
      Claude Minkler bought the bakery in the early 1930s, and four years after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, he opened the Castle tavern beside the bakery site. That is now the Cues and Brews lounge. Minkler was apparently a good businessman because he made enough money to buy out Skagit Baking Company and then buy the north part of the historic Fritsch Hardware building in 1935, where he opened a new bakery (the Chamber of Commerce is there today). The 1939 story notes that Clyde had a fountain, ice cream and confectionery department in the bakery, his own ice cream machine and a delicatessen. He also sold bread wholesale and owned a truck that served food stores in the upper valley. Minkler sold out to Hugo Eger in 1940 and the bakery name was changed to Tip Top Ovens. In 1949, Eger opened a new bakery down to where Janet Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery is today. That building was built by furniture dealer and mortician A.H. Devener in 1908, and in the 1930s and '40s housed the Cascade Cafe. Later, from 1959 the bakery business was owned for many years by a Danish immigrant, the late Esben Hansen. The south half was originally Bob Mahaffie's meat market, but the cafe today fills both sections.
      After interim owners, Janet bought the bakery in about 1992 and completely remodeled it. She sold the business later in the decade but after about five years, the new owners closed the doors. Luckily, early in the 21st century, Janet's daughters Erin Joy and Kim Mellich decided to join her actively in the business. They talked Janet into re-opening the business and we have our wonderful bakery again. They are all joined by Janet's sisters Gayle Poole and Bonnie Hooper (from the Ed and Agnes McDougle clan, and mother Agnes McDougle Stransky still comes in to help, as does Janet's husband, Mike, and various nieces and nephews. Do you have copies of old photos or stories of any of the bakeries you would like to share with us? Please email. And tell Janet and family that you read about them here.

(bullet) Email this link to your friends and meet them here for lunch or breakfast. And email the link to folks who plan to return for reunions or visit here on vacation. We will show them the Sedro-Woolley spirit, another reason to make our historic town their destination.
(bullet) See the Check Out Sedro-Woolley First page
(bullet) See the Free home page of the Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore
for history of Sedro-Woolley and Skagit county.