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Hale bakery closing

Family has kept business open since 1952

Published: Saturday, Jan. 17 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

Steve Jordan and Cliff and Arlene Firth buy bread and pastries Friday at the Hale Bakery. The store will close for good today.

Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News

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The aroma of fresh rolls and pastries has kept customers coming back to Hale Bakery for decades.

But the corner market that has catered to locals since 1967 at 1300 South and 900 East will have sold the last of its homemade dinner rolls, peach pies, sweet rolls, breads and Mexican wedding cookies when it closes its doors at 3 p.m. today.

Richard Hale, whose father and uncle started the business at a separate location in 1952, said the bakery faced mounting expenses in replacing old equipment and looming building repairs that would have made it too costly to continue.

When an offer was made in December to buy the site, the Hales felt it was too good to pass up. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We're getting older, " 63-year-old Hale said. "We're in a position if one of us were to get sick or one of us were to die, we don't know how we would replace that one and still be able to continue to operate."

The bakery has not only drawn a local following over the years, but also has been the site of political speeches by Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson and was frequented by former LDS Church presidents Spencer W. Kimball and Joseph Fielding Smith.

"Joseph Fielding Smith sought us out because we didn't open on Sunday," Hale said. "He particularly liked the lemon pie that we made."

When the family business opened in 1952 it was known as Hale Pies, located at 300 South and 800 East. It once took orders for as many as 1,200 pumpkin pies the day before Thanksgiving. Hale learned the business from his father, Ellsworth, a Navy cook during World War II, and his uncle, Clane.

James Crane, who lives in Sugar House, said he has been a regular customer since 1967.

"We come about once a month," Crane said Friday after purchasing six dozen dinner rolls. "I'd like to see them open another one."

The bakery's "sheepherder" rolls, a large floury hamburger bun, was a staple at Hires Big H restaurants. On average about 180 dozen of the rolls were made daily for the restaurant chain. Hale said he passed on the roll recipe to Rocky Mountain Bakery to continue to serve the restaurants.

"We have had a long-term relationship with Hale Bakery," said Mark Hale, co-owner of Hires Big H and a distant cousin to the bakery family. "Many people comment on the quality of our beef, and in the same breath they say how tasty the bun is."

In addition, the bakery supplied bread to Dee's restaurants for their toast.

Art Hansen, a Salt Lake resident, said he preferred the bakery's danishes.

"I've been coming here 10 years," Hansen said. "It's sad to see them close."

Jill Kretzschmann has worked at the bakery for 13 years, since she was offered a job as a senior in high school.

"It's been a good atmosphere," Kretzschmann said. "We had a bunch of kids came in to buy a lot of things today. They said, 'If we buy the whole store out, will you stay open?' One boy bought $20 worth of stuff. So he was serious, I guess."

One thing Hale said he won't miss is the schedule.

"My son and I come in about 2 o'clock in the morning," he said. "It keeps me tired all of the time."

After today, Hale will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.

"We've had a lot of dreams over the years. Most of them have been dreams," he said. "We haven't become rich, but we've been blessed. We all feel very good. There's no regrets."


E-mail: danderton@desnews.com

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