A landmark business along Auglaize Street in downtown Wapakoneta may be in danger of not reopening.
The City Bakery, located at 20 W. Auglaize St., has been closed since July 1, when natural gas to the building was turned off due to an inability to pay bills.
“It’s bad,” said owner Rod Sidel, 48, who also lives upstairs of the bake shop.
This week, electricity to the business he took over from his parents approximately seven years ago also was disconnected.
Sidel and other members of the community are asking for help to get the bakery door back open. A bakery has been housed at the location since 1885, when the building was constructed. It’s been in the Sidel family since the 1970s when Rod’s parents, Julia and Keith Sidel bought it.
Their son took the business over after his mother was diagnosed with bone cancer and could no longer work. His other siblings weren’t interested in the donut business.
“I like it,” Rod Sidel said. “I’ve been around it all my life. I was a cashier when I was little and still remember the day I made my first donut.”
Every day beginning when the bakery would open at 5 a.m. Sidel handrolled 14 different varieties of donuts in his shop, which stayed open until he sold out or until noon Monday through Saturday. Customers include both regulars and passerbys, but everything is fresh and handmade without machines.
“I’d hate to see this taken out of the community,” Sidel said. “But if I can’t afford it, I’m not sure it would open again.”
Although Sidel said he would like to expand his offerings, because of his mom’s illness she only had time to teach him how to make the donuts, cookies and brownies, for which he receives special orders. He doesn’t know how to make the breads, cakes or pies she used to make as well.
“I would like to reopen,” said Sidel, who admits he doesn’t have a backup plan if that doesn’t happen.
The downtrodden economy and its impact on small town America has played a factor, said Sidel and those attempting to help him. He said costs went up and sales went down.
“I hope the community can help, I’m not sure how else I can get back open,” Sidel said.
“Some are not too happy that I’ve closed but some may not even know,” he said of the bakery, whose most popular donut is arguably the nutty cinnamon roll.
In total, $3,000 would be needed to catch up on gas and electric bills as well as to restock.
“I kind of saw this coming but hoped I would be able to pull out,” Sidel said. “It just seemed to get worse and worse.
“Any support people can give would mean so much,” he said. “Somehow I will find a way to give it back.”
After others in the community started talking about why the bakery was closed they started reaching out to Sidel to help him reopen.
“He has a great product and a unique business,” said Tammy Brown, executive director of Mercy Unlimited, a non-profit, Christian ministry a few blocks down from the bakery.
“He couldn’t pay his gas bill when it got so high over the winter and it caught up with him,” she said. “We’d like to help him move forward. He has successfully run this business for seven years and everyone you talk to loves the donuts.”
She’s asking for the community’s help because Mercy Unlimited funds cannot be used to help a struggling business.
While out and about talking to people about the situation, Brown said she’s had several offer their support immediately and she’s hoping others will step forward.
“It’s not a large amount,” Brown said of what would need to be raised.
In addition, she said several leaders of the community also have been working with Sidel to develop a business plan, improve marketing of the bakery and even look for a second job to help make ends meet.
“It’s the effect the downturn economy is having on mom-and-pop businesses throughout the country,” Brown said.
“City Bakery is an icon that could be gone forever,” Brown said. “We’re trying to save it. People in the community really do care about one another.”