Since 2014, John and Julie Sigafus were in charge of making the doughnuts at Pine River's historic bakery. As of Jan. 4, they handed their aprons to new owners and a family of helpers.
Kristy Miller; her husband, Brian Chaffee; and a slew of family members are now putting in the early hours to produce the traditional sour cream doughnuts, the decadent cinnamon rolls and Pine River's famous sawdust rolls since buying the business.
Chaffee heads the local CommUnity meals program, which offers free meals one day a week in both Pine River and Backus. Miller is a chef. Her daughter - and part of the bakery team - Katrina Miller, spoke about buying the bakery and Kristy's extensive culinary background.
"My mom has been a chef her entire life," Katrina said. "She grew up in restaurants. Her parents had restaurants on and off, so she's worked in the restaurant industry her entire life."
Kristy recently left her position as a chef and came into the shop to buy doughnuts when Julie Sigafus asked if she would buy the bakery. Kristy decided that sounded like a good idea.
"She went back and looked at the kitchen and fell in love with it and started the process," Katrina said.
A passion for the culinary arts convinced Kristy to do what many cooks dream of in becoming an owner.
"It's the passion that my mom has for food and the passion she has for feeding people and the fact food brings people together," Katrina said. "With the trying times right now that's something very important to all of us, to have a good environment, good food and good atmosphere to bring people together and bring a little bit of joy to them."
During a small window of down time the bakery's interior was slightly remodeled, with mostly a neutral paint scheme so the baked goods have less competition. Much of the business remained the same as do most of the goodies behind the counter, though some changes are planned.
"We're going to be open Mondays, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.," Katrina said. "We are adding a little bit of bakery catering stuff."
The shop already sells some wholesale, but now they are looking at expanding offerings for special events. Longtime fans will be happy to know that they will have all the local favorites.
"We received some of the original recipes from the owners years ago (Al and Barb Klocke)," Katrina said. "We're bringing back the original sawdust rolls and the original apple fritters."
There will also be more fresh baked bread products, including loaves of sandwich bread, croissants and others. Overall, they are just building on the products that have worked for years.
"Right now we're trying to keep it much the same because we know the bakery is a staple in Pine River and we don't ever want to lose that," Katrina said.
Alongside the classics, the new owners will try new baked goods as well. On social media, Kristy said the public reacted overwhelmingly positive to a Fruity Pebbles doughnut and the prospect of additional cereal inspired doughnuts.
"We do want to add some of the funky ones because we know it's fun to come in and try something new," Katrina said.
The staff at the bakery is all family at the moment, including Kristy, Chaffee and three of Kristy's daughters. Various significant others are chipping in to help with duties outside the kitchen, including maintenance. There is a possibility of the team reaching out for staff outside the family in the future.
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.