Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery Closes, 2003

April 26, 2003

Ted Gustafson (center) and sons Bill (left) and Bob are getting out of the bakery business. They have operated Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery for 48 years. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)



By Jane Brissett, News-Tribune staff writer

Add this to your list of things to do this morning: Stop at Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery and stock up.

Today is its last day in business.

If you want to have a last taste of the Gustafson family’s special coffee cakes, fried cinnamon rolls, bismarcks and other goods — all made from scratch — put down that coffee cup and head to Lakeside right now before they sell out.

Within a couple of weeks, Johnson’s Bakery in the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood expects to expand to a second location at the same 4509 E. Superior St. location occupied by Lakeside Bakery.

“I hope they don’t change the recipes,” said Karl Braafladt as he picked up a couple of items Friday morning.

The bakery, which has been in the same place since 1955, is a local institution and one of the few family-owned bakeries left in the city. It’s the only stand-alone bakery in Lakeside.

For about 50 years a group of men has been meeting for coffee at Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery. And while the faces have changed, the tradition continues in April 2003 for Bob Klein (clockwise from left), Jerry Archer, William Keller, John Keturi, Cliff Hedman and George Lancour. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

It’s not only a place to pick up a loaf of bread or some cupcakes, but it’s a gathering spot. A group of male retirees has met there for coffee every morning since the bakery opened. While membership of the group has changed, the topics they discuss haven’t.

“We talk about politics, world affairs — you name it,” said William Keller, a member of the group. Many are veterans, John Keturi said. “We get quite a few war stories,” he said.

Ted Gustafson, 91, and his sons, Bill, 60, and Bob, 57, are retiring out of necessity. Their son and brother, Tom, who also helped run the business, died last year. They also have four other employees.

“We don’t really want to quit,” Bill Gustafson said. But he has severe arthritis. Both of his hips and knees and an elbow have been replaced. All of the heavy work has been left to him.

Bob Gustafson, however, has a bad back and will be having surgery soon. He won’t be able to work the job anymore, either. And Ted Gustafson, who has been at work at the bakery at 3:30 a.m. every day for 48 years, can’t do it alone.

“People are really shocked that we’re closing,” Bill Gustafson said.

Much of the bakery’s business comes from people who live and work in the Lakeside neighborhood, such as lifelong resident Dave Borgeson, who picked up a bag of goodies before he went to work at a nearby pharmacy Friday morning. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

Ted Gustafson is one of four brothers who each owned a bakery back in the 1950s. One was in Lincoln Park/West End, two were downtown and Ted’s was in Lakeside. His is the last one surviving.

At one time, Lakeside Bakery delivered daily to the Air Force base, City Hall, the courthouse and the Federal Building. For several years, they supplied East High School with glazed doughnuts for the students’ morning break.

But they have cut down in recent years and don’t routinely deliver anymore. The walk-in business keeps them going.

“We try to stick with stuff that sells fast and that people like,” Bill Gustafson said.

In some respects, Johnson’s Bakery is a natural successor to Gustafson’s. Scott Johnson, president and general manager of Johnson’s Bakery, said his late father, who founded his family’s bakery in 1946, knew Ted Gustafson.

There will be no party or speeches marking the closing, but Johnson’s praise makes an appropriate eulogy for Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery:

“Nowadays, for anyone to be in business that long says they’re certainly doing something right.”


Laurie Edblom picks up pastries and cookies for her co-workers in April 2003 at Gustafson’s Lakeside Bakery. Bob Gustafson bags the order for her. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)


As noted in the story, Johnson’s Bakery took over the Lakeside Bakery location, and remains there to this day.

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5 Responses

  1. E.Paul Sykes

    I worked for the bakery while going to Central High in 1955. I went to work at 3PM after school.Cleaned the floors and scrubbed the pots and pans. At the end of day I would get myself a bowl of ice cream and a pastry then closed up the bakery. It was a great place to make .75 cents an hour.

  2. Happy to report that Gustafson’s is still open in Lakeside and West End (now Johnson’s Bakery) and still bakes wonderful bread, buns and pastries. Walking into the stores is like stepping back in time. I highly recommend shopping there before they are forced to close once again.

  3. D

    Gustafson’s was a forever type of place, with its retro soda fountain counter and stools, and no matter how early in the morning when you just couldn’t sleep, tapping at the door, and one of the Gustafsons slapping floured hands against a big white apron and sloshing strong coffee into vintage crockery, and sliding over a cardamom braid to die for. Had Gustafson’s somehow survived, it would now be a be a retro icon. Johson’s was the death knell for coffee in Lakeside; they got rid of the vintage counter, they do no baking there, just hauling in their anaemic crap from West Duluth, and somewhere in the corner of now lifeless place, self-serve, the weakest coffee on the planet.

  4. david fanaselle

    I used to like to go to the bakery when I was cutting classes from ordean junior- cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee.

  5. I will never forget the Gustafson’s Bakery but will miss such nice people that worked for them. I really enjoyed buying brownies after school and giving them to the DTA bus driver Bob Hansey on my way to my first job back in 74. I lived in Lakeside all of my life until moving in 09 when being called the Lakeside Legend and hoping the Bakery will stay it would always bring back alot of good memmories.

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