JACKSON, Mich. – It feels like the European Bakery has been at 622 Page Avenue in Jackson, Michigan forever.
“This is our coal oven, built for us in 1913,” Jim McCann, co-owner of the European Bakery, said.
McCann shows off the century-old oven in the back of the bakery. "It certainly has its quirks, but it still works."
“It’s not shutting right now,” he said.
Every night they shovel in some coal and some wood pieces to get the temperature just right for baking.
“I think it’s the oven that gives our bread its unique taste,” McCann said.
It’s the very same oven his grandfather, Anthony Niesluchowski, used when he opened the bakery back in 1913 after he emigrated from Poland.
“At the age of 22, 23 he came to the United States to start a new life and he opened this bakery,” McCann said.
Niesluchowski was known for his kindness as much as for his recipes.
“During the tough times, like the Depression, he carried a lot of people on the books,” McCann said. “People didn’t have any money and he said, ‘I’ll get it when you have it.’”
The place has stood the test of time through the Great Depression and World War II. McCann’s mom and dad ran the bakery after Niesluchowski passed away. McCann and his two brothers run the business currently.
But now operating costs and the wish for a quieter retirement has led the brothers to the point of closing. The thought of it has customers and employees alike more than a little nostalgic.
“There’s got to be a lot of Kleenex on hand that day,” Sherri Lavan, a 10-year bakery employee, said. “I will be crying my eyes out. This place is going to be terribly missed.”
McCann said his grandpa would be proud that the business stayed open as long as it did. When it finally closes on Sept. 14, it will have been open for 105 years and one day.