New City Bakery owners Lance Wells and wife Lisa Paradise showcase their baked goods on Thursday morning.

Archived Story

It’s a family approach at bakery [UPDATED]

Published 11:44am Monday, November 22, 2010 Updated 12:28pm Monday, November 22, 2010

The new owners of City Bakery may be new to town, but they’re certainly not new to the restaurant business.

Lance Wells and wife Lisa Paradise moved back to the area for the first time since 1989, and they plan to stay here — they bought the Purple House on Lincoln Avenue and took over City Bakery.

“I loved this area so much that I wanted to stay here,” Wells said. “We were looking around, and an opportunity came up at a perfect moment, and the rest is history.”

Wells, 48, is originally from South Dakota, where he grew up in food service because his parents owned a restaurant. Paradise, 46, is from Wisconsin. Before moving back to the Midwest, they lived in Pasco, Wash., where Wells was a child nutrition director for a large school district for 13 years.

Now back in Minnesota, they’re both glad to be back.

“Having lived out on the west coast for so long, it’s nice to be closer to family,” Wells said.

With a background in culinary, Wells is an executive chef by trade, whereas Paradise has more of a business management background. However,When they moved to Fergus Falls in October and started at City Bakery, Paradise found that she enjoyed baking. So, Wells said, their roles switched, but “We’re very much a team effort.”

They kept any existing employees who wanted to stay on the team, including previous owner Pam Goebel, who will continue to bake fancy cookies and cakes. And they brought back doughnuts, which they’ll serve along with cookies, cakes, breads and other baked goods.

“We’re taking a family approach to the bakery here,” Wells said, adding that they’re trying to keep a 1940s/1950s theme. One special they’ve brought back is the baker’s dozen on all baked goods, including cakes.

And because they don’t want anything to go to waste, they have a happy hour from 4 to 5 p.m., when all doughnuts and rolls will be half off.

They bought a large espresso machine that can make twice as many lattes in a minute, and they’re currently in the process of selecting a coffee company as a supplier to put the machine to good use.

One challenge has been making the adjustment of waking up around midnight to get to the bakery by 1 or 2 a.m. to start baking before opening, Wells said, but he thinks it takes he and Paradise longer now because they don’t know all the “tricks and routines” yet.

While they’ve been learning all the tricks of the trade, Wells said he’s talked with customers who have shared memories of City Bakery throughout its long life in the community. He plans to collect those memories and post them on their Facebook page, but also hopes to become a part of creating even more memories and continuing a long-standing tradition.

“This whole adventure has been the greatest thing,” Wells said. “The outpouring of support from the entire community has been so amazing, and we’re going to work really hard to keep this here another 80 years.”

  • ackerjohnson

    Do the world a favor, and bring back the hard cinnamon toasts (rusks) that they made in the 60′s and 70′s

    • citybakery

      Thanks for your input! I am not personally familiar with what you are describing, but I will do my best to look into that and try to get a recipe.

  • ackerjohnson

    Wow, for the first time in a long time a Fergus Falls business proprietor actually responds to a customer request. These people show great promise, I knew they were from somewhere else. I haven’t been in City Café and Bakery for over a decade, but I’ll give these new people a try.

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