UPDATE: Lines were out the door this morning, July 12, 2013, as the final days of Johnson's Bakery approaches.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the store was closing July 12. The actual last day is July 14. It has been corrected here.
WATERLOO, Iowa --- A bakery with a six-decade history of success in Waterloo is closing.
Dennis Johnson and his sister, Sharon King, are shutting down Johnson’s Bakery, at 820 W. Fifth St. in Waterloo, July 14.
Herb and Marie Johnson opened the bakery in 1950 as the Dixie Cream Doughnut Shop after the couple had moved to Waterloo from their native Kentucky, where jobs were scant. Herb had landed a job at Rath Packing Co.
The bakery has had numerous locations, but it has been operating in its current venue since 1957.
They soon expanded their product lines to include “old-world-style products,” including wedding cakes, cupcakes, buns, doughnuts, rolls, cookies and other goods.
The bakery had outlets in several local Fareway stores and provides “a ton of” baked goods to restaurants, King said.
Business was good, but it was time to step away from it, King said Monday.
“We’re at that age,” she said. “I’m almost 70 and Dennis is 66, and it’s just time. The opportunity arose and we decided to do it.”
She said her brother was unavailable to comment.
She declined to provide any details about what kind of “opportunity” prompted the brother and sister to shut down the business.
It wasn’t a question of any downward sales trends, King said.
“Business has been very good,” she said. “Even when the street was closed (for construction), they didn’t seem to notice. We were glad about that.”
New and established customers continued to stream in, King said.
“We always had newcomers and we always had people who said they were yay-high when they first started coming here, people from out of town,” King said, adding that other customers regularly placed orders on the business’ website.
The bakery employs about 30 full- and part-time workers, including family members, King said.
The business will operate at full speed until the last day, King said.
“We’ll do everything the same until 2 o’clock that Sunday afternoon,” she said.
Then, she said, a routine that she and her brother have known daily since they were kids will screech to an immediate halt.
“We were brought in as children; Dennis has probably worked production since he was 12,” King said. “We started out by making boxes and sweeping the floor. Dad always believed in keeping us busy and keeping an eye on us.”
Johnson’s Bakery has advertised itself as a business that caters to the sweet tooth, that “it’s not a job, but a way of life to us.”
That’s a case of truth in advertising, King said.
“This is to us like a family room; we were raised in this back room,” she said.
Now, King said, it’s time to slow up. She said retirement gives her a chance to spend time with her husband, Aaron, known as “Mike” to friends. Mike has been retired from John Deere for a number of years.
“He’ll be kind of glad to spend some time with me for a change,” she said of her husband of 21 years.
King said she wasn’t sure of her brother’s plans.
“I think he’ll learn to have a whole cup of coffee,” she said. “He likes to travel. I don’t know if he has plans, but I know he’ll first relax.”