The third-generation family owners of Astoria’s 108-year-old Home Baking Co. are hoping someone will take on the business as they look to retire.
The bakery was started in 1910 by Finnish immigrants Elmer Wallo, Charlie Jarvanin and Arthur A. Tilander, whose brother went down with the Titanic on his way over to be a partner. It has been run by the Tilanders since the 1940s.
Jim Tilander has worked at the bakery off and on since he was 13 and full time since 1977. He met his wife, Kathryn, there when, on a visit from Southern California in 1983 to see family, she was convinced to help out. The couple soon took over from his father, Arther H. Tilander.
The two each spend about 50 hours a week at the bakery, Kathryn Tilander said. She does the accounting and runs the front of the store. Jim Tilander has spent many early mornings over the past 40 years baking in the back with a small crew. After recently turning 65, he started thinking about retirement.
“I’ve been here nonstop since 1977,” he said. “I’m hopeful to pass it off to someone who wants to keep doing this.”
Their son, Kevin Tilander, and daughter, Katie Diak, have both worked at the bakery, but each went other directions. Jim and Kathryn are looking forward to spending more time with their children and traveling.
Among its doughnuts, pastries and breads, Home Bakery fills a niche for local Scandinavians with specialties like cardamom bread, Swedish limpa orange rye bread, Florentine cookies, Norwegian fattigmann fried cookies and cinnamon snack bread.
There are a steady stream of older customers who come in to the shop for doughnuts and coffee and countless others who come from all around for the Finnish pastries, Kathryn Tilander said.
“We’d like to see someone pick up where we left off,” she said.
The announcement comes after Astoria’s other longtime bakery, Danish Maid, closed last year shortly after the death of co-owner and baker John Lindstrom. The downtown space has since been turned into Good to Go, a gourmet lunch counter.
The 5,000-square-foot, 1928 Home Baking Co. storefront at 2845 Marine Drive has been listed for $400,000 with local real estate agent Victor Kee. The entire business, including the building, name, equipment, and online presence, is available for $650,000.
In the bakery’s spacious backroom is a museum of working, World War-II vintage equipment, including a 10-rack commercial oven filling most of the former garage.
“This place is big,” Jim Tilander said. “A young person could run four bakeries and deliver all around the region.”
He also sees potential to restore the historic building and add a restaurant, while expanding the export of the bakery’s cinnamon toast, a specialty shipped to independent grocery stores.
In no hurry to sell, the Tilanders are waiting to see who steps forward to potentially continue Home Baking’s long history, even offering to teach a new owner their recipes and production methods.
“I’m just going to list it and see what happens,” Jim Tilander said.