LODI — The wooden sign above the display case of confections reads, “Give Us This Day, Our Daily Bread,” and for 93 years, Weber’s Bakery did just that.
However, Saturday will be the last taste of the business at 161 South Main St., which will close its doors at 4 p.m.
“I’m buying caramel frosting and donuts for the freezer,” said Mike Powers, friend and classmate of owner David Weber.
On Wednesday, the Lodi High School alumni ate lunch together during the final days of Weber’s Bakery. Powers said the aroma of the business brings him back 35 years to a “taste of home.”
“Buy the local approach for local artisans and craftspeople, like David. People need to support them,” he said.
Betty Pulsfus stopped in to check out what beloved sweets the bakery still had on site. The hand-made goods are created about 20 feet from the storefront and register.
“They make everything fresh. I’ve probably been coming here 35 years. I would get the fudge they made,” Pulsfus said. “I’m going to miss them.”
Since the announcement on March 8, people have filed into the business for their favorite baked goods and flooded the phone with questions and requests, said Arlene Sayles, an employee for seven years.
“I’ve always been a customer here. Since I started working here he’s been like my brother. I’ve met so many people, you make so many friends. You know them not by name, but by face. You know what they’re going to order,” Sayles said. “It’s very sad, very sad. The phone won’t stop ringing.”
The bakery has been treading water for about five years, Weber said.
“I kept holding on and holding on,” he said. “There are rumors about my heart acting up again. I had a pacemaker in 2006, but that’s not it. That is not it. We don’t have the business. We keep cutting employees and cutting hours.”
The customer base just isn’t sufficient to maintain the third-generation bakery. Weber’s grandfather John worked at Piper Brothers Bakery in Madison until a strike occurred. Not wanting to cross the picket line and having a family to support, the Swiss immigrant headed to Lodi to start his own bakery in 1921 with the help of his wife, Elizabeth, who was German. The family business, originally named Lodi Home Bakery, switched hands in the 1950s when John passed it down to his son Bob.
David Weber grew up in the bakery, standing on buckets to be tall enough to work. In 2001, Weber’s dad gave him the business and his son Amos, 10, talks about being the fourth generation to work the dough. When Weber told his son about the closing they shared some tears together, he said.
Last fall, Weber and his wife, Noel, decided that if things weren’t moving forward financially then they’d have to make the tough call to close. And, things are actually moving backward, Weber said.
“We’re kind of winging it right now. We have no capital savings; a broken fridge; we don’t have half the capacity of the cooler. It’s just been one nick after another,” Weber said.
The couple are meeting with a Realtor and listing the building this week. The Webers do plan to continue providing bakery items to two restaurants, he said.
“We’re going to have wholesale. We’re not 100 percent sure what angle, but stay open at as much of a capacity as we can. Still doing wedding cakes and occasion cakes and the churches need us (for lefse and funeral buns),” he said. “We’re definitely shutting down the retail unless I win the lottery.”
Weber did buy a ticket.
The last day of business is Saturday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. After that, employees from over the years will close the door with Weber.
“The last day with the old workers, we’ll sit around, eat and cry,” Weber said.