The doors have been closed for three years, but it still smells like doughnuts inside.A new owner has purchased Hans’ Bakery on Fifth Avenue and is working to resurrect the Anoka institution. Kelly Olsen hopes to have the bakery open again before school starts in September.
But it’s not going to be as easy as pie.
“The place needs a lot of work,” said Olsen.
Olsen said after the business was foreclosed, the baking equipment was repossessed. Then while vacant, vandals broke in and stole all the copper.
“So we’re really starting from ground zero,” Olsen said. “And the place is absolutely filthy.”
First, power and plumbing have to be restored before she can even get to cleaning the place.
Hans’ Bakery has a special place in Olsen’s memories.
“I had gone to this bakery over and over again as a child,” Olsen said.
She grew up on a hobby farm in Blaine and her family made regular trips to Anoka to visit the feed store, the co-op and the bakery.
She remembers seeing owner Hans Birkner out in the bakery, talking with the customers. She knows of the history of the famous round table, and the stories swapped by the regulars who sat there.
Birkner opened the bakery in 1973 and ran it until his death in 1997, Olsen said.
His family continued to operate it, until selling to a staff baker. After a couple of years the bakery was sold again, but eventually closed.
How it started
Olsen owns a small real estate brokerage, and when the bakery went up for sale it caught her eye.
“I was intrigued, but not really anything more than intrigued,” she said.
But as the price continued to drop, her interest grew.
Finally the price on the building dropped to a point she couldn’t resist.
Opening the bakery is also in line with Olsen’s life direction.
Her husband Jeff Hettwer was killed five years ago by a drunken driver.
“Since then I have been trying to move away from things that are stressful and toward things that make me happy and make other people happy,” Olsen said.
Bringing doughnuts to the people, especially at an Anoka institution, qualifies.
Olsen has a business background, but she’s not a baker.
She doesn’t plan on being in the back kitchen with an apron on.
“I’ll leave that to the professionals who know what they’re doing,” Olsen said.
Two former bakers who worked at the original Hans’ Bakery have agreed to come on staff to help Olsen get the place back up and running.
“There really aren’t any words for the support I’ve had for doing this,” Olsen said, while waiting for a second visit from the electrician to get the power back on in the building.
During the interview someone started clapping in their car when they saw her working outside the bakery.
There’s a lot of anticipation about the return of the famous beehives and doughnuts. Months from opening, Hans’ Bakery already has nearly 7,000 Facebook followers.
“In the middle of the night when I can’t sleep I just roll over and look at my phone and all those comments,” Olsen said. “I’m so excited about how supportive people have been about seeing this come back to life.”
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]