Minneapolis' Scandia Bake Shop is history

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2009 - 10:20 PM

Scandia Bake Shop in Minneapolis began serving Scandinavian delicacies in 1951, but because it has lost its lease, the bakery is set to close Saturday.

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Scandia Bakery owner Gary Arvidson, along with head baker Tom Aarsvold, rear, removed julekaka from the oven to cooling racks on Monday. Arvidson’s landlord refused to extend the lease on the bakery, saying Arvidson often has been late with the rent. Arvidson says he doesn’t have the $20,000 to move the shop.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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The king of Norway and the crown prince of Sweden dined on pastries from the Scandia Bake Shop when they came to Minnesota. Every December hundreds of customers have paraded in to buy loaves of julekaka (pronounced yul-uh-kaka), the Norwegian Christmas bread, filled with candied fruit and raisins and spiced with cardamom.

The future may not be so sweet, however.

The bakery, at 5011 34th Av. S. in Minneapolis, is set to close its doors at noon on Saturday after the landlord declined to extend the lease. An attorney for the landlord said the shop has been chronically late in paying its rent.

Local supporters are trying to rally support for the shop, either to keep it open or find another place to reopen it.

"It is one of the oldest of the Scandinavian bakeries where you can still walk in and buy these wonderful desserts and breads," said the Rev. Carol Tomer, of the Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul. "It's a great loss if they close."

Owner Gary Arvidson, 60, said moving into another bake shop would cost up to $20,000 -- money that he doesn't have. He said the sagging economy has hurt sales and the snowstorm on the weekend before Christmas cost him $3,000 to $4,000 in lost business. "I am hoping we can save the place," he said.

On Monday, baker Tom Aarsvold, 61, weighed out the julekaka dough while Arvidson rounded it into loaves, brushed them with an egg and milk mixture and slid them into the oven.

"I hate it," Aarsvold said about the store closing.

"We don't want this family gone. This is family, not a bakery."

The shop has gone though several incarnations.

Opened in 1951 in the Cedar Riverside area by John and Mary Lundberg, it was taken over by a son, Terry, who moved into Ingebretsen's deli and gift shop at 1601 E. Lake St, then to 2713 E. Lake St. Terry Lundberg sold the shop, and it closed for a brief time in the early 1990s.

Arvidson said he and his wife, Doris, bought Don's Bake Shop and reopened Scandia Bake Shop at its current location in 1993. The couple divorced several years ago, with the ownership shifting to Gary Arvidson. In 2004, the shop expanded to include the space that was a former tailor store next door.

Arvidson said his original monthly rent of $792 is now $2,178. He acknowledges that the landlord, Joe Bisanz of VIP Properties, went to court to evict him for nonpayment of rent four times in recent years. But Arvidson said he is now up to date on rent payments.

Robert Schwartz, Bisanz's attorney, said he notified Arvidson in July that he would have to be out of the shop by the end of 2008. He said Arvidson had been "chronically" late on his rent the last five years although he is now up to date.

"He is a nice guy, a good guy, but it is so difficult when every single month he is late, late, late," Schwartz said.

Says Arvidson: "I have been late frequently. I don't know if I would use the word 'chronically.'" He said he pays a $100 penalty when he is late.

The shop has 12 tables, and Jim Dougherty, a maintenance man at two churches, was sitting at one of them on Monday. He had just finished a turkey sandwich.

"I come in just about every day," he said. "It's a neighborhood tradition. It's a landmark. I'm going to be sorry to see it go."

Staff researcher John Wareham contributed to this article

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382

øBAKERY FROM B1

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