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Members like Ceres Bakery

“If you don’t know the science, it’s kind of magical.”

Discovering the magic of baking in Kalispell…

 

Since 2006, Kalispell’s Ceres Bakery has been a mainstay of its community. It’s a warm and inviting hub of delicious smells, mouthwatering eats, and a place for Montanans to sit, have a latte and a decadent cinnamon roll (complete with cream cheese icing), and catch up with friends. There’s always a mind-blowing array of tempting treats. 

 

 

"At the beginning of the night, there’s nothing. At all. There’s nothing! And then, at the end of the night, there’s just all this bread…and you’re like, wow!”

 

While their café might close at night, this Ceres Bakery—named for the Roman goddess of grain—never, ever sleeps. “It’s so gratifying. At the beginning of the night, there’s nothing. At all. There’s nothing! And then, at the end of the night, there’s just all this bread…and you’re like, wow!” says co-owner Hannah Bjornson with pride. “Enough food to feed hundreds of people,” adds her co-owner and husband Rick Grimm.

 

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For almost two decades, Grimm and Bjornson have run Ceres Bakery on Main Street, working their way from being small business owners to running a 24-hour operation that includes numerous bakers and pastry chefs. Inside is a bright, welcoming open space with wooden booths, art, and a dazzling array of treats and eats. It’s truly a feast for the eyes and the stomach, as Ceres offers an overwhelming selection of breads, buns, cookies, bars, croissants (both savory and sweet), brownies, cinnamon rolls, turnovers, brioche, muffins, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, and more. Hungry yet?

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These days, their Main Street location isn’t their own only storefront. Ceres Bakery’s breads, buns, and other goodies are available in seven grocery stores and 30 restaurants. It’s a far cry from their early days, which weren’t just about long hours and grueling work but watching the cost of food—especially flour—soar.

 

“The first year when we opened, we were paying about ten bucks a bag for flour, and within a six-month period, it jumped up to thirty bucks a bag. We almost lost everything, tripling our cost. And also doing deliveries, gas jumped over four bucks a gallon, and I believe that shot up the wheat market too,” Grimm told the Flathead Beacon in 2020. “We have to also compete against the big boys (such as Sysco). If we jack up our prices too much, we’re going to lose accounts. You can reduce your costs by taking people’s shifts. But we’ve never laid anyone off in 14 years, and we’ve been able to keep people happy.”

 

It’s hard work, but for Grimm—who’s been baking professionally for 30 years—it’s more than just a labor of love. There’s a rhythm to the work, one that seems almost Zen-like in its rhythms.

“It goes really quick,” he says. “It’s enjoyable. Once you get a pace going, it’ll just stay that way. But then…before you know it, it’s like, yeah, eleven-thirty.”

 

 

 

“In my thirty years of baking, I’ve never been bored”

 

“It’s amazing how fast it goes and what a flow you can get into,” adds Bjornson. “In my thirty years of baking, I’ve never been bored,” adds Grimm. “I’ve never looked at the clock ‘cause I feel like time’s going slow…you get a lot done, but you don’t move quick. And it’s just that efficiency and that movement that you can kind of geek out on. That’s kind of fun!”

 

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Six years ago, with the help of Whitefish Credit Union, Grimm and Bjornson hit a major goal: buying the building they’d been leasing since 2006.

 

“Everyone kind of expected us to fail,” admits Bjornson. “I realize why.” Here, she laughs. But Whitefish Credit Union helped them secure the loan that would see them through their dream. “And they were really excited to help us out with the loan. They didn’t just want to make sure that they got their money. They wanted to make sure that we were successful, which was really nice. And also made me feel kind of safe.” Laughs. “We have built a little community, and they have helped us build the community.”

 

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It's every small business owner’s dream: not just to be successful, but to be successful on your own terms and contribute a warm and vibrant space in your community. Grmm and Bjornson took a labor of love and grew it into a small empire, supporting their staff and serving a community with fresh baked goods to tempt almost any appetite. It’s been decades of hard work and a passion—and really, a kind of philosophy—about baking that’s resulted in a well-known and beloved local haunt.

 

You get the sense that, as far as Grimm is concerned, this isn’t just about bread. Or muffins, caked, pastries, or buns. This isn’t just feeding your community, either. It’s like a culmination of purpose and passion that meets in a way so as to create something that takes a life of its own. And he’s tapped into it.

 

“Did you guys happen to hear the bread crackling when it came out of the oven?” he asks. “There’s a French phrase for that, it’s like the bread is singing.” He means “Le pain qui chante” or “the bread that sings. This is how the French identify a good baguette. And you can hear it, an audible—almost joyful—crackling sound.

 

“There is magic. But then you can also talk about the science of it. If you don’t know the science, it’s kind of magical. ”Adds Bjornson, “But if you do know the science, you can make the magic happen all the time.”

 

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