The sweet smell of success: Cashmere bakery keeps on rising — and making dough
Monday, March 4, 2013
Walking through the door of Sure to Rise Bakery is like passing through a portal of time to when life moved a little slower. The senses are engulfed with the inviting aromas and warmth of grandma’s kitchen.
Welcome. Have a seat. Care for a cookie?
“We’re still the bakery you would have gone to 40 years ago, because everything is made from scratch,” said Vince Bosket, owner and chief baker.
Bosket begins his workday early at Sure to Rise Bakery, 115 Cottage Ave. in Cashmere. So early, in fact, most of his customers are asleep with visions of fresh warm bread, delicious donuts and a wide variety of cookies dancing through their heads.
“I arrive at 1:30 a.m. every workday, and get right to work,” Bosket said. He works 10 to 12 hour days, Tuesday through Saturday.
It doesn’t take long for the hard-working 57-year-old baker to go through a recent delivery of 2,000 pounds of flour and 400 pounds of sugar. He adds it to precise measures of other baking ingredients such as yeast, baking powder and eggs, and it’s gone in a mere two weeks’ time.
That’s a ton of flour. Literally.
“We sell 40 to 50 dozen donuts each day in a town of 3,000 people,” Bosket said. “It’s incredible.”
And this is the slower time of the year for the busy baker and his staff of four.
“The summer is our busiest time,” Bosket said. “We go through considerably more baking supplies during the summer months.”
Bosket grew up in Everett, one of four kids in his family. But he always seemed to be the one who helped his mother in the kitchen. Growing up, Bosket’s family often traveled to Central Washington to hike in the mountains; the family grew to love the area.
Bosket’s first job after graduating high school was an apprentice baker in a Safeway store two blocks from the family’s home in Everett. He worked there for 10 years and built the foundation for his baking career.
“Back then Safeway stores actually baked from scratch, and I learned some good things,” Bosket said.
Bosket enjoyed traveling, and on a trip through New Zealand with his girlfriend, Patti, the couple ran across a bakery called “Sure to Rise.” Knowing of Bosket’s desire to someday own a bakery, the owners of Sure to Rise insisted he name it the same.
In 1982, Bosket and Patti married, and the young couple bought property near Leavenworth, built a house and raised three boys. When Cashmere Bakery came up for sale in 1986, Bosket saw the potential and bought the building and business.
The bakery had a solid presence in downtown Cashmere since 1949. When Bosket became the fourth owner, he knew the business was in need of a major makeover. He gutted the kitchen, replaced the floor and roof, and put a fresh coat of paint on the interior walls.
“The baking equipment was pretty run down,” Bosket said. “Half the elements were burned out of the rack oven. I don’t know how the previous owner even used it.”
Bosket replaced the main rack oven with a used one he found at a Safeway store in Yakima. He transported it to Cashmere and installed it himself. This large commercial baking workhorse is the heart of the business, featuring six rotating racks heated by propane. Bosket can fit four large baking pans on each rack, so the oven capacity is 24 baking pans at one time. He also bought new mixers and warming ovens that provide a warm, moist place to allow his breads to rise.
While Bosket made many upgrades to the bakery, he maintained its small town charm. The bakery is a popular gathering place for the community, sitting in the heart of downtown.
“People are drawn to Cashmere because it is a charming community, and the bakery, a cornerstone of the downtown, adds to that charm so much,” said Jill FitzSimmons, manager of the Cashmere Chamber of Commerce. “I talk to many visitors who say going to Sure to Rise was an experience unto itself. I see many people walking by my office each day with their little white bags. And it’s a popular stopping place for the kids walking home from school, too.”
Over the years, Bosket has built an impressive retail business that accounts for 60 percent of his annual sales. Every day he bakes mouthwatering apple fritters, donuts, cookies and breads.
But the wholesale side of the business is perhaps even more impressive.
“We have around 20 wholesale accounts up and down the valley, as well as here in Cashmere,” Bosket said.
Country Boy’s BBQ, just two blocks from the bakery, is one of those wholesale accounts. Owners Tom and Anitra Dew appreciate the homemade quality of the buns they get every day from Bosket.
“When we started Country Boys, we couldn’t find a good commercial bun that complemented our barbeque meals,” Anitra said. “Everything we looked at was pre-fabricated and couldn’t hold up to our meats and sauces. Vince worked with us and came up with a made-from-scratch, custom-baked bun specifically for our business. That was eight years ago and today we’re busier than ever.”
And with an economy that looks much like a loaf of bread without yeast, Bosket discovered his customers still wanted their fresh-baked goods.
“If I hadn’t read (about the recession) in the paper, I wouldn’t have even known it,” Bosket said.
Although the immediate future of Sure to Rise Bakery still calls for continued clear and sunny skies, the sun may be setting in the bakery’s long-term view. After 26 years of assembling the ingredients for his popular line of baked goods in his 50 to 60-hour work weeks, Bosket is trying to concoct a good recipe for retirement.
“I’m ready to start working part-time,” Bosket continued. “It would be great to work 30 hours a week for a couple of years. If I can find someone young who wants to take over the business, I would work with them to get them on their feet.”
In fact, it looks like Sure to Rise Bakery could even be in a position to expand.
“I’m finding myself turning down additional wholesale work because I simply don’t have the time or energy to take it on,” Bosket said. “I can handle a couple more years, but it’s hard work. I want to start enjoying myself.”
Until then, the seasoned baker will continue to do what he does best. And he will continue to sell his baked goods at affordable prices.
“Although I make gourmet donuts, I refuse to charge the new ‘gourmet’ prices now seen,” Bosket said. “Most bakeries charge a couple of dollars per donut, whereas mine are still 60 cents each.”
And that’s one of the ingredients to the recipe for his success.
“I’m still the bakery you’d go to when you were a kid,” Bosket said.