People lined up out the door this morning for what they thought might be the last kringle they'd ever buy from Lane's Bakery. But it turns out that won't be the case.
Chuck Lane, who has run the bakery with his brother, Mike, since their dad retired about 10 years ago, signed a lease Thursday for a new store just down the road at the Villager Mall. Even better news: it will have plenty of seating -- even more than the current location -- for all of the regulars, many of them retired, who gather each morning for coffee, pastry and company.
Chuck's father, Jerry, who started working at his father's bakery when it was still on University Avenue, had a hard time choking back the tears Friday. He wanted to go talk to some of his old friends in the café area, but just couldn't. "Some say they will chain themselves to a table," he said with a smile.
Chuck Lane says he will be baking all of Lane's traditional fare -- kringles, donuts, buttercream cakes -- at his new location, where he will also offer "gourmet" sandwiches, espresso drinks and wi-fi. He will be able to build out the store to his specifications and hopes to open by May 1.
"I am looking forward to going back in the business," he says.
Jerry Lane says he's very proud of the job his sons and daughter-in-law have done at the bakery since he retired. But he says his sons don't see eye to eye on the future of the bakery. "That's the reason for the decision," he says.
Jerry's father opened the bakery on University Avenue in 1954. It moved to the 600 block of South Park Street in 1957 and to its current location at 448 South Park in 1987.
Jerry says the regulars have said they'll follow Chuck down to the new location. So will St. Mary's Hospital, which was the bakery's only wholesale client. "They can't wait to have us down there again."
The UW Athletic Department was also a big customer. When the Badgers went to the Rose Bowl a couple of years ago, the department ordered hundreds of cupcakes, Jerry recalls. All had red roses on top.
Steve Bowen, an old friend of Jerry's and a former bakery owner himself, stopped by Friday at Lane's to pay his respects.
"I wouldn't miss this day for the world," he said.
Bowen says people underestimate how hard it is to run a bakery. "It's adverse hours; it's hot. People don't realize how much you go through."
Jerry agreed: "There are some days when you come in at 7 p.m. and you work through 'til the morning."
Jerry and his wife now live in Mercer. She is undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. He says it was caught early and she's doing pretty well.
In their younger days they ran the bakery together. "We were a team," he says. "I couldn't have done it without her."