Rogers Bakery overcomes obstacles

The business will reopen Monday, seven months after a fire.

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COLLEGE PLACE - You'll have to forgive Rogers Bakery for not opening a little sooner.

After an electrical fire ripped through the College Place business last February, owners Kelli and Lenny Leen had initially thought the cleanup and recovery would take two months. Three tops.

But then they discovered a little problem with asbestos in the floor tiles.

And there was the bureaucracy of insurance to deal with.

And then came a surprise with the equipment that decided not to work after it was moved back into the refurbished building at 116 N. College Ave.

And when it seemed that every challenge had been overcome and cosmetic work was all that remained, the latest twist: A doughnut case specially ordered for the business five weeks ago was shipped to El Paso, Texas, instead of the Pasco address where it was supposed to arrive.

"It was just all these things. So many details," Kelli marveled as she prepared, once and for all, for the business's reopening Monday.

It was, she supposes, only fitting that the restoration of the bakery renowned for its maple bars and apple fritters would end up starting in the same fashion as just about everything on its menu: from scratch.

Seven months after the fire that started in a light fixture at the roughly 50-year-old business, the Leens are more than ready to get back to work. Insurance has helped offset the loss of income, Kelli said. But it doesn't replace the structure that work provides. Or the rewards of tickling the taste buds of customers who got their first bite of the business when they were kids paying 10 cents for a maple bar.

And just as the operation has had its share of lumps, the recovery has also provided some new ingredients for the business.

The Leens were able to salvage a piece of wood from the burnt bakery and enlist the help of a cabinet maker to add a bar to the business. Guests will be able to belly up to it for a pastry or sandwich and access the shop's wi-fi.

There's also a bigger restroom, and new dcor. Painted with warm golds, greens and purples the color brings a cheery feeling to the shop, which has been spruced up with new tables and chairs. In one corner: two comfy black chairs are divided by a table where guests can play games.

And then there's the staff. Mostly the same, and led by the Leens's son, Colby, as head baker. But there are also some new ones, including Sara Farnsworth-Smith, who was just finishing culinary training in Seattle and had sent her rsum to Rogers Bakery not knowing about the fire.

"It's one of those things, like a silver lining in the cloud," Kelli said.

She said the business will operate 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. The shop may open Sundays, too. Live music will occasionally be performed there, too.

"We're going to start out normal and build from there," she said.

Grand reopening

Rogers Bakery will reopen at 6 a.m. Monday at 116 N. College Ave. A three-day grand reopening will kick off on Dec. 6 with free apple fritters and maple bars.

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