Community Steps Up To Support Sugar House Pastry Shop Through Pandemic
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A long-time bakery had been struggling mightily in the pandemic until the community — through social media and personal pocketbooks — stepped in to lend some much-needed support for the business and the brothers who run it.
Carol’s Pastry Shop, 1991 S. Lincoln St., first came into being in 1948 and is still operated today by 92-year-old Al Walkenhorst and his 88-year-old brother, Bob.
When it all began, pies cost as little as 56 cents and the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic may well have been pie in the sky.
The business succeeded for more than seven decades.
“I’ve had four or five couples come in with their mother and dad’s wedding cake,” Al Walkenhorst said. “’This is my mom and dad’s golden wedding. Could you duplicate this cake?’ And I looked at it and said, ‘Oh, I made that 50 years ago!’”
The brothers never could have foreseen the time when a virus would have left their sales looking so sickly.
“We had lost all of our business on the wholesale,” Al Walkenhorst said. “All the retirement parties from the city and the county and the state. We lost the Jazz when they played here. They had big orders. The hospitals and all. We didn’t have any weddings for June hardly because of this COVID.”
Flatly, Bob Walkenhorst said it hurt.
Between local news coverage and efforts by the community on social media, however, business finally started to pick up again.
A GoFundMe account* was also set up to help keep the business afloat.
“Two weeks ago is when it just really took off,” said grandson Conner Johnson. “It was really interesting to see the transition from really slow to busy, busy, busy like Christmas.”
On Saturday, the brothers said customers lined out the door and out to the street as they waited to get their hands on Danish, cookies and Carol’s well-known eclairs.
Johnson said he’d never seen that before.
“Yeah it was crazy!” Bob added.
Among those who spread the story on social media was Ian Wendt, who stopped by the store Tuesday afternoon to meet the brothers.
“I just felt compelled to help them as well, and so I just put it out there,” he said. “It was, ‘Go visit them, go to their shop and buy some donuts or whatever. Just go in there so they can stay in business.’”
Ron Roskos came in for the first time after finding the brothers’ story on Facebook.
“It was just interesting and hadn’t heard about it before, so we decided to come on over and see what we could find,” Roskos said. “I think there are so many who are really hurting with the pandemic, and I think it’s the small businesses that are really being tested and we’d like to support this business.”
Rafael Kyrenes ordered 2 dozen eclairs.
“I feel like I needed to come down to support them,” he said. “I can’t eat 2 dozen eclairs, but I’m going to share with the neighbors.”
In addition to the increased business, the GoFundMe account had raised nearly $19,000 as of Tuesday evening.
“It’s awesome to see the support,” Johnson said. “The community really rallied!”
The brothers said they don’t intend to run the shop for forever.
However, they continue to work 8- to 12-hour days and are glad to stay active.
“My wife says, ‘You don’t want to sit at home — all you’ll do is sit in front of the TV and watch TV all day,’” Bob Walkenhorst chuckled.
Both men said they are extremely grateful for the support they’ve seen from customers new and old.
“(We) appreciate them all,” Bob Walkenhorst said. “Thank you, thank you!”
*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.
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