Glenn's Hometown News: The Cle Elum Bakery and its sweet history - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Glenn's Hometown News: The Cle Elum Bakery and its sweet history

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CLE ELUM, WA - For the newest edition of Glenn's Hometown News, Glenn Cassie took another trip to central Washington, where he came across a family-owned bakery in a wonderful little city. They've been serving up homemade pastries from secret family recipes for over a hundred years.

What is it about small town America that makes these destinations so charming? Is it the old, rustic buildings from generations past that adorn the city streets? Or is it the tight-knit community, where everyone knows your name? Perhaps it's a bit of both.

But for the city of Cle Elum in central Washington, with a population of 2,000, it's a family-owned bakery that adds to that charm, and it sits right in the heart of this sleepy town.

They've been serving the same homemade French bread since the days before prohibition. Ivan Osmonovich, the owner, was raised in the bakery after his father purchased it in 1947 from Italian immigrants, who first opened the store in 1906. It's here where he took his first steps.

"We lived actually in the building, and so it was always a big adventure," Ivan said. "Because there's the machinery, and then there's the cookie case, and you know when you're a little guy, you love all that."

Ivan says he has lots of memories of the bakery as a child; playing in the store and helping his dad make the bread and pastries. Some of which are still made with the same, century-old recipes, which is a big part of what drives Ivan to keep the store going.

"The history of it. The reputation," he explained. "A lot of the customers, their grandparents brought them in here as a kid, or their parents brought them in as a kid, and they're able to come in here and get the same cookie and the same product, they did when they were little kids."

But in the end, Ivan says it's the quality of the ingredients they use that make their donuts, cookies, and other delicious pastries and pies stand out. That, and some secret family recipes. Not to mention, the original brick oven that bakes that wonderful French bread, and which hasn't been turned off since it first started running in 1906!

"That's what keeps me going, cause I just love that old oven. I'm so proud, just to be able to...honored to be able to use it."

The bakery has sat in the same location since it first opened, and originally sold groceries alongside its baked goods. And while some of the original parts of the bakery still stand, the menu has evolved to meet customers' tastes. But for Ivan, keeping the store as close to its original form is important.

"Here, the bakery was actually built as a bakery," said Ivan. "In the back, we've got the five big windows that let the sunlight in. And everything is just handy. The way the oven is placed and the pattern of the workers - it's all bakery."

Today, some of the bakery's most popular items are the donuts, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and of course, that incredible French bread. And if you want a souvenir from your visit, well, they've got you covered there as well.

Despite the old-school feel of the place, Ivan is well aware of how 21st century technology can help his business.

"The main thing lately has been the internet, Facebook, Instagram. As quick as we can put something on there, people see that and it reminds them that we're here and then they're down here."

And make no mistake, this is a family affair. Ivan's wife, son, and daughter all work here, and there are no complaints from their 2:00 a.m. start time, as it takes four hours to bake all of the bread. Ivan says the key to the quality of it starts with ingredients.

"We buy the best products that we can. The best that we make our products out of. The best ingredients. We don't shop for the cheap price. It's got to be good stuff, or we don't even use it."

After spending a few hours there and seeing the steady stream of customers roll in, Glenn spoke with one who grew up nearby but now lives in Savannah, Georgia. She was in town visiting her new grandchild and had to stop by. 

"My whole life, with the three kids and the dog, we'd stop here, coming and going and this is our tradition," said longtime customer Pat Farman. "So, every year when I come home, I come here."

And with that steady stream of customers, the business has expanded to include a sandwich and salad shop, located right next door in what used to be the original owner's home. For Ivan, he says keeping his customers happy is one of his life's biggest joys.

"There's a lot of pride in ownership," said Ivan. "Anywhere we go, when we tell them we're from Cle Elum, people go, 'they've got a great bakery there,' and we love to hear that."

And Glenn can attest that they certainly do have a great bakery there. To give you another idea of how old the place is, there's a wine cellar in their basement from the prohibition era that still has a dozen barrels that have never been opened.

If you have an interesting business or story idea from your hometown, send Glenn a message at glenn.cassie@nbcrightnow.com.

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