Sudburians lined up along Brady Street Dec. 3 as they said goodbye to a Sudbury institution — Golden Grain bakery — while at the same time hoping to stock up their freezers with their favourite breads, cookies and other baked goods.
On Oct. 24, the City of Greater Sudbury announced plans to purchase the Golden Grain building, along with several other downtown Sudbury buildings, which led to the bakery’s decision to close its doors for good Dec. 3.
While customers who'd made it through the line packed into the Golden Grain storefront, the production area also had a respectable crowd, as it was all hands on deck as the last baking went into the oven and family members and past employees dropped by to pay their respects.
The bakery first opened in 1932 on Romanet Lane, the current location of The Dog House restaurant. Golden Grain has been operating in its current location since 1936.
It has been owned by three generations of the same family.
Now operated by John and Dave Andlar along with their staff of eight, it was originally owned by their grandfather, Peter, who had a partner named Joe.
The bakery then went to Peter’s sons, John and another Peter. John then passed the bakery onto his own sons in 2000 - the current owners, John and Dave.
Speaking to Sudbury.com in a phone interview Friday, John Andlar Jr. said he was expecting Sunday to be not only busy, but emotional.
“Oh definitely, it’s going to be emotional when we put the last loaf of bread in and then we take it out, and that’s going to be it,” said John.
He’s been working at the bakery full time for 37 years, but also worked there as a kid. Running the bakery means long, punishing hours. John gets up at 1 a.m. and starts production at 1:30 a.m.
Following the bakery’s closure, John said he and his brother are going to take some time off and figure out what’s next for them.
Regarding the deal with the city, John said, “We’re good with it. We were working with the City and we came up with something. It’s all good.”
The bakery had quietly been contributing to the city’s needy for many years.
John said they baked 700 loaves of bread a week at cost for the Sudbury Food Bank and the Inner City Home of Sudbury. Any leftover goods were also dropped off for the bakery’s nearby neighbour, the Blue Door Soup Kitchen.
“I think it’s important, helping our community and the less fortunate,” he said. “We’ve always done that.”
Watching as younger generations of his family rushed about the bakery, John Andlar Sr. spoke to Sudbury.com Sunday morning, during Golden Grain’s last baking.
“It’s sad that after 91 years, that’s it, this is our last day,” said John Sr. “It’s kind of emotional. I have my grandchildren here. A lot of the people who I worked with before are here. I’m glad for my two sons, David and John, because they work so hard.
“They need this rest. They’re working 16 hours a day.”
John Sr. said seeing the lineup outside the bakery actually brings him back in time to the days when Golden Grain was busy on Sunday mornings because grocery stores weren’t open.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “I see a lot of old friends.”
Don Clarke, one of the many customers lining up for one last chance at Golden Grain baked goods Sunday morning, said he used to live not far from the bakery as a child.
“My mom used to send me down here with a quarter to buy bread,” he said, adding that Palm Dairies was also nearby. “So I’m coming back one more time.”
Clarke said he planned to put some rye bread in his freezer, and see whatever other treats might be available.
He said it’s sad the bakery is closing, but as someone who also used to work the graveyard shift, he understands the Andlars need a break.
More long-time fans of the bakery, Liz and Gary Moratz were also in the lineup Sunday. Gary said he wanted chocolate chip cookies, while Liz was after dark rye bread.
Liz reminisces about how in her younger life, her family's Sunday loaf of Golden Grain bread would be gone by the time the day was over. "It inspired me to make bread when I was younger,” she said.
Asked why she loves Golden Grain so much, Liz said it’s partly because of the tradition behind it. "It's a taste of history," said Liz.
Heidi Ulrichsen is a journalist with Sudbury.com.