Over the river, through the woods to Don’s Bake Shop
June 20, 2007
Looking for something in a powdered donut? Or how about a nice bagel? Don Ewing can get them for you wholesale.
And for the past year, he’s had the retail end of things covered as well.
Welcome to Don’s Bake Shop, the kind of a business one might expect to find in Mayberry, R.F.D., only with modern appliances. It’s a great place to hunker down for breakfast or lunch, or to just come in and shoot the breeze. All are welcome.
“We like to think of this as Grandma’s house. Come and visit us while we bake,” said Ewing, a 15-year Tahoe resident who has owned Don’s for six years. “People have said that it’s a nice, warm friendly place to hang out.”
For the first five years of its existence, Don’s was strictly wholesale, working out of the basement of the Rockwater and serving great baked goods all around town.
“But about a year ago my lease was up, and they told me they really needed the space,” Ewing said. “So it was either do it (go out and start a restaurant) or go back to work. And I didn’t really want to go back to working for someone else.”
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So Don’s Bake Shop was born. Located on Highway 50 just east of the “Y,” the building that Ewing occupies was originally tabbed to become a Chinese restaurant.
“The owner had it all ready to go,” Ewing said. “Then at the last minute he changed his mind, and he rented it to me.”
Don’s has created a great reputation in a short time. An 11-person staff makes a wide variety of tasty baked goods; from pies to donuts to bagels (which are boiled in the classic tradition). But the most popular item is probably the upside-down bran/pineapple muffin.
“That item is a health concept which we’ve totally destroyed,” Ewing said, laughing. “We put syrup on there and everything. People love it.”
Ewing has been in the bakery business for 24 years, beginning when he was 18 years old and living in San Leandro in the East Bay.
“I was a music major in college (Chabot, and later Cal State Hayward), and the schedule of working in a bakery was perfect for my schooling,” Ewing said. “But I ended up being a better baker than I was a musician.”
These days the schedule is still kind to Ewing, giving him time off to spend time with his two teenaged children, watching their sporting events, etc.
Don’s still does wholesale; at places such as Camp Richardson, his baked goods have become legendary. At the restaurant, too, most of his business comes from locals; customers at Ken’s Tires next door often come in while waiting for their cars to be ready.
“We tell them to come on in, you don’t even have to buy anything,” Ewing said. “Just come in and play some Scrabble.”
Don’s reputation is well deserved; everything is made on the premises, from scratch. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 7-2 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
“It’s a lot of hours,” Ewing said, “but I get to play with food all day, and that’s really cool.”