St. Cloud Bakery Shutting Down After 67 Years In Business
ST. CLOUD - Stock-up on your caramel banana bread from the St. Cloud Bakery. The owner of the St. Cloud landmark says he's being forced to close the store this Friday.
Owner Jeff Westerlund says the state health inspector has given him an ultimatum, either make several major upgrades to his business or shut down the bakery. He says they're asking him to install a new floor in the production area, a drop ceiling, and a new mixer. The costs for the upgrades, along with fines, would run him thousands of dollars.
Westerlund says Friday will be the last day for the St. Cloud Bakery, which has been in the same location at 1408 West St. Germaine Street since 1947. Westerlund has owned the business since 1977.
He says he's had calls of support from St. Cloud Chamber President Theresa Bohnen and State Representative Tama Theis. Theis says, "There are several of us here in the House and Senate, including Senator John Pederson, that are trying to figure out what is going on with the inspection and fines, and regarding what seems to be a short time to continue the upgrades and/or to seek ways for him to possibly get some financing for repairs."
Westerlund says, "This is my life, and I would love to stay".
The St. Cloud Bakery has four full-time, and five part-time employees.
About 80 percent of their business is wholesale, and about 20 percent is retail.
The Minnesota Department of Health Spokeswoman Margaret Hart says, "Because this is an ongoing investigation, the information is considered non-public and we are unable to discuss the case.
I can speak in general terms about the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s inspection process. MDA’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division inspects bakeries, grocery stores, convenience stores and dairy farms for violations of state laws and regulations. Our first goal is to work with the firm to get them into compliance. If the firm is unable (for example, compliance will require new equipment or changes that are cost prohibitive) or unwilling to do what is necessary to comply with the law, fines may be issued. Sometimes when a firm is unable or unwilling to comply, they will voluntarily close the business. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture cannot force a business to close, rather, the case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge and only they have the authority to require a business to close."