Meet your merchant: The family-run Gristmill Bakery — formerly the Lake Center Bakery — celebrates its 26th year in a new location
Gristmill Bakery, Deli and Cafe
Address: 10042 Wolf Rd., Suite E, Grass Valley (at Hwy. 49)
Facebook: Gristmill Bakery & Deli & Cafe
Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Sundays and Mondays are by appointment only.
When Santa Cruz native Mikki Lord moved with her husband and six kids to Vancouver Island in 1975, the townsfolk called the blended family, “The Hippie Brady Bunch.”
Mikki, armed with a strong work ethic, a creative streak and a gift for working with the public, landed a job at a local bakery. She loved it, so it made sense that when the family moved to Nevada County in 1986, she got a job at the Flour Garden Bakery. She later moved on to manage the bakery at SPD market, working alongside her oldest daughter, Kim.
By 1992, Mikki was eager to branch out on her own, as well as establish a business where she could give her own growing children a real job. Later that year, she opened The Lake Center Bakery and Deli, located in Lake Center adjacent to Lake of the Pines.
“Originally, it was just me, my son Gaerin and my daughters Ceylon and Kim working there,” said Mikki. “They ate an awful lot of food out of the bakery.”
Offering a broad range of fresh, made-from-scratch baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, subs, burgers, homemade soups, salads, milkshakes and espresso drinks, the cafe was a hit. In addition, Mikki’s custom cake decorating services quickly gained popularity through word of mouth.
Mikki ran her business out of the Lake Center store front for more than 26 years until the price of rent finally forced her to scout out new locations. In retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened, she said.
In October of 2017, after eight months of renovations, Mikki opened The Gristmill Bakery, Deli and Cafe at the corner of Wolf Road and Highway 49. Today, her daughter, Ceylon, oversees daily operations alongside her mom, with the help of full-time employees Randi Rhein and Dylan Williams. Occasionally other family members will fill in part-time.
“Everyone’s happy — our longtime customers followed us over here, plus we have a lot of new ones,” said Mikki. “Business goes up and down with the seasons, but I’d say we’re about 30 percent busier here. And we love our neighbors — everyone has been so supportive.”
Operating on a slightly smaller footprint than the original bakery, the Gristmill staff is still making the same popular delectables, such as breakfast burritos, deli sandwiches, soups, salads, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, cappuccinos and more. Favorite baked goods include their famous cut-out cookies, pizza bread, coffee cake, muffins, eclairs, cheesecakes, tiramisu and more.
Looking forward, plans for the family business are to keep things just they way they are, said Ceylon.
“I love working with my mom — she’s a super human being, just a wonderful person,” she said. “I got my first real job here at 16, and now I have a 16 year old at Bear River. I love working with my family.”
That was all part of the plan, said Mikki — to keep the family close. While some of the kids are now grown and scattered around the country with children of their own, the bakery remains a hub of good food and fond family memories.
“I’m 71 now and I’ve always loved being my own boss,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve watched the kids grow up here — we started out with a playpen and baby swing in the back. Now the grandkids come in and I’ll set them up at their own separate work station. They love to come in and mix.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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With a 5.9% unemployment rate, Nevada County ranked 12th out of the state’s 58 counties in employment rate last month, according to the latest data released by the state Employment Development Department.