Pedretti’s Bakery Celebrating 50 years in business!

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Christopher Reimer mixes a batch of glaze for doughnuts. Christopher is the third generation to run Pedretti’s Bakery.
Christopher Reimer mixes a batch of glaze for doughnuts. Christopher is the third generation to run Pedretti’s Bakery.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

When Christopher Reimer’s young sons visit their dad at work, they often stand on upturned buckets to reach the workbench where even small hands can find something productive to do. It’s what Christopher did when he was a boy, and what his mom and her seven siblings did when they were young, too.
Three generations of Pedrettis have had a hand in building the bakery business that Joe and Mary Pedretti launched in 1968. If any of Christopher’s sons follow in his footsteps—and at least one vows he will—they will be the fourth generation to convert secret family recipes into mouthwatering treats like doughnuts, turnovers, cookies, fruitcake and more.
Pedretti’s Bakery, housed in a modest red brick building at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets, Elkader, is celebrating its 50th year in business. It opened July 3, 1968, when Christopher’s grandparents, Joe and Mary, purchased it from Charles Hughes. Joe had been a baker since the age of 22 when he left the family farm near Genoa, WI to work for a brother who ran a bakery in Prairie du Chien. Joe later managed the bakery at the Piggly Wiggly store until opening his own business.
For nearly four decades, Joe baked six days a week, arriving at the store at 1 a.m. in order to have the shelves filled by 7. His wife often worked alongside him. By 1999, Joe was considering semi-retirement. He turned the business over to his son, Gary, who had worked for his dad for nearly 20 years. Gary died suddenly in 2003 at the age of 45. That’s when Christopher’s parents, Jane Pedretti Reimer and John Reimer, purchased the bakery.
At the time, Christopher and his wife, Jamie, were living in Waterloo where Christopher was working at a job he didn’t particularly like. The Central graduate who also earned an engineering degree at Iowa State University returned to Elkader to help out his folks. It was a logical decision: Christopher had long stood by his grandfather’s side learning how to make the baked goods that have made Pedretti’s a regional favorite.
 “My mom had worked in the bakery but she’d never done any baking,” said Christopher. “I told her I’d come back and help out if she’d manage the business.”
When his mother died in 2010, Christopher and Jamie took over the bakery. And now their sons—Henry, 10; George, 7; and Louis, 5—do many of the same tasks Christopher did at their ages like folding boxes and sweeping floors.
Like his grandfather before him, Christopher works long hours. He arrives at the bakery after his boys have gone to bed and stays until about 2 a.m. If an especially busy day is expected, he might be at the bakery in the afternoon. That’s when his sons will ride their bikes from their home a few blocks away to visit and help.
Pedretti’s has a faithful client base that includes a man from Manchester who makes the trip just to buy crispies.
“He never calls ahead and sometimes when he gets here, we’re out,” Christopher said. “So he just picks something else.”
The bakery is favorite stop for campers and tourists. On an early summer morning, it’s not unusual to find customers forming a line out the door and up Main Street. Even those who don’t buy directly from Pederetti’s enjoy the bakery’s fresh breads and buns served at Thoma’s in Garnavillo, 2 Mit Burgers and Fennelly’s, both in Elkader, the St. Olaf Tavern and Barney’s in Wadena.
Earlier this summer, Pedretti’s celebrated their 12th year as a participant in Elkader’s Sweet Corn Days. Their doughnut hole-eating contest draws many, many participants, and keeps Christopher busy for hours the night before. He generally makes 2,000 doughnut holes for the competition.
Like most small business owners, Christopher views his work not as a job but a lifestyle.
“There are challenges,” he admits. “It takes a lot of time and the hours are long and sometimes irregular. But it’s great to live in a place where the boys can hop on their bikes and ride the few blocks from home without us worrying about them. And it’s rewarding to offer our customers something that seems to make them happy.”
No doubt about it, Grandpa Joe would be proud.

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