Ma-and-pa bakery reaches end of the line in Brooklyn Park

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2013 - 11:49 PM

The shop that provided cakes for family milestones closed its doors, a victim of changes in dietary habits, traffic patterns and competition.

In an uncertain world, it’s best to eat dessert first.

That’s sound advice that Sandy and Blair Moeller have lived by for the past two decades. The couple owned Jack’s Bakery and Coffee Shop in Brooklyn Park since 1999, making all of their cakes, cookies, doughnuts and breads from scratch.

Their cakes and confections have helped a generation of north-metro families celebrate milestones — first communions, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and retirements.

But the rise of big-box retailers, low-carb diets and changing traffic patterns proved a difficult combination for the independent bakery. Jack’s closed its doors after business Saturday, another example of a mom-and-pop store that couldn’t stay afloat in the suburbs.

“Sometimes it takes something like this to jump-start people. Maybe we need to support the small businesses more instead of the big box. At least that seed is being planted,” Blair Moeller said last week.

Still, the couple are appreciative of their regular customers.

“They’ve been unbelievable,” said Sandy Moeller. “It’s so overwhelming. It breaks your heart to know you are disappointing so many people.”

Brooklyn Park City Council Member John Jordan lamented the closing.

“Their cookies and doughnuts are so much better than the larger mass market types of doughnuts out there,” Jordan said. But big-box retailers “are selling the same product for less money. It’s hard to compete with that. I understand the financial difficulties they would have competing with the big-box stores.”

Jordan used to own a small golf shop. Facing a similar business climate, it eventually closed, too.

“My little golf shop could not compete with the Golf Galaxies of the world,” he said. “They just had so much better buying power than I had.”

Sandy Moeller teared up as she reminisced a few days before the bakery closed.

Jack’s, named after its former owner, was located in a strip mall on Broadway Avenue. But inside there was a distinct small-town feel to the place.

Last Tuesday, the bakery was busy with a line winding from the counter to the front door. The small dining area of laminate booths was also full with regulars sipping coffee and lingering over pastries.

The word was out that Jack’s would be closing, and some folks were ordering extra cakes and breads to freeze.

The glass case was filled with fancy cupcakes, cookies and bars. Many of Jack’s specialties, including blueberry doughnuts and banana flips — a doughnut with a banana filling — were already sold out for the day. Women behind the counter in maroon aprons and handkerchiefs took orders.

Prices were reasonable at 45 cents for a cookie and 85 cents for a doughnut with sprinkles.

“I should have kept raising prices, but it’s hard,” Sandy Moeller said.

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