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Third Street was home to retail bakeries

Hard at work inside the Marquette Baking Company in the 1980s is, from left, Vera Audette, Mr. Kaukola and Rick Ryoti. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE — Over the years, you may have noticed something unique about Marquette’s Third Street business district–something that, for the lack of a better word, we’ll call “clusters.”

Unlike in other areas of the city, Third Street was home to many “clusters” of the same type of businesses up and down the district. All of Marquette’s funerals homes were (and still are) located on Third, as were many of the city’s finest hair salons. For many years, another type of business clustered around the area were bakeries and out of all of the bakeries that have called Third Street home, there are two that still standout in people’s memories today: The original Marquette Baking Company and the Sweet Goods Shoppe.

For almost 50 years, until it shut its doors in the early 1980s, the Marquette Baking Company would be a stop for everyone from school kids to their grandparents. Alfred Alholm owned the bakery for 35 of those years, and he was joined in making the goods by Erick Ryoti, who himself worked there for 20 years. One of them would show up around 4 every morning to get the dough started for the day’s projects, and by the time the rest of the city was on the move the place would be packed with everything from bread to doughnuts to cakes.

Even 40 years after it closed, people still remember the wedding cakes you could get there–one person said “I’ve never had a cake as fine as they made. And I loved their white icing and have never found any like it.”

Other people have raved about their pasties, macaroons and date bars, and one person also mentioned “Their brownies have never been beaten anywhere in my book!” One gentleman who was a kid back in the ’50s mentioned that he “always walked into the Marquette Bakery on Third and the lady with the dark wavy hair and a hair net would give me a lemon & raspberry filled doughnut. I will never forget her!”

Like all bakeries of the time, though, the Marquette Baking Company specialized in its bread. White, rye, limpa, French, everyone had their favorite. When the bakery closed in the early 1980s, it actually lived on for a few years as a shop called The Bread Basket, which used the original recipes from the old Marquette Baking Company.

Seven blocks down Third Street from the Marquette Baking Company sat the Sweet Goods Shoppe. And while the bakery was known for its cookies and other snack treats, many people recall other specialties, like their pasties. One or two of the huge pie-plate sized dishes would serve just fine for family dinners or picnics on Presque Isle.

Other people remember the great taste of the sweet rye or Swedish Rye bread, and say they’ve never quite found one that matches the bread baked by Ted Gasper, who owned Sweet Goods Shop for many, many years.

And there are people who even remember picking blueberries for the Sweet Goods Shoppe. They’d get paid a nickel a quart, although they’d have to clean what they picked themselves and the fresh berries would be used in the pies sold there during the summer.

The Gaspar family ran the Sweet Goods Shoppe until it closed in the early 1970s. Its location is now home to several businesses, most notably the Casa Calabria.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about this unique street, join us for Third Street: Day and Night a walking tour being put on by the Marquette Regional History Center Wednesday, June 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The walk begins and ends at the PEIF parking lot and there’s a $5 suggested donation. For more information, contact the History Center at 906-226-3571.

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