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Nora Springs bakery serves up small-town charm

NORA SPRINGS — Ruth Willier’s kitchen at home was overflowing with pies, bars, cakes and other baked goods.

It was obvious she needed a bigger space.

So when she found a good spot at 32 S. Hawkeye Ave. and came to terms on rent, she figured she’d be all set.

But the venture began to rise to an unforeseen level when folks started seeing her moving equipment in.

They thought, “Yea! We’re going to have a bakery!” she said. That wasn’t part of the original plan, but they got one anyway.

Community Bakery opened March 27, offering breads, rolls, cakes, bars and other sweet confections, plus homemade lunches and Saturday breakfast. Click here for more photos.

Folks who discover the bakery seem to love it.

Virginia Hazelett and Willie Hungerford stopped by late Wednesday morning.

“Hi. How are you?” Hazelett said, walking in the front door.

“Just fine,” Willier replied.

“We thought we’d come in and bug you,” said Hazelett, of Manly
“I’m bugable,” said Willier, eagerly showing around the new visitors.

There are six booths, a beautiful wooden display case for bread, a rack with homemade apple butter and heaping helpings of small-town charm all over.

“It’s really nice – fresh and clean,” said Hazelett.

After a remarkably short wait, she and Hungerford were forking into their plates of roast pork with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Willier said she began commercial baking several years ago when she ran Ralph’s in Manly. She sold the restaurant six or seven years ago and baked out of her home, selling at farmer’s markets and for about 25 regular customers.

She plans to sell at the Kmart farmer’s market again this year – it’s scheduled to open May 17 — but is focusing most of her efforts on the bakery/diner. She lists daily lunch specials on a calendar so patrons can see a month ahead what’s on the menu. Like liver and onions? Plan on May 6. Lasagna? May 13. Chicken over biscuits? May 18.

The bakery offers doughnuts, long johns, scones, turnovers, caramel rolls and fruit rolls. Breads include French, honey wheat, dinner rolls, Ciabatta and Baguette.

And there are cakes, pies and bars, and plenty of coffee and soft drinks.

“I love it,” said Heidi Hays, who was working the counter Wednesday. “I get all the news because everyone comes in here and you know everybody.”

The bakery is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Willier said she begins baking about midnight. “At opening time I’m just about done with everything.”

“We have a really good coffee crowd, with the same first customer every day,” she said. Tom was the first customer on the first day and is trying to … ahem … stay on the roll.

Willier, who also works at the Nora Springs Care Center, said she thinks four days a week for the bakery is about right for a town Nora Springs’ size. She doesn’t want people getting sick of donuts, she joked.

She said she’s been very pleased with the support she’s received. Part of the reason is that folks don’t like to bake as much as they used to. So when they find someone who does it well, they’ll keep on coming in.

“It’s all pretty simple,” she said. “I come to work and make stuff and people buy it.”

Click here for more photos.

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