Delicious Traditions: Bloomer bakery’s new manager keeps it simple

Nikki Lanzer, photos by Nikki Lanzer

VIVA LA VIE BOHEME. Laura McNamara is the new manager of the Bohemian Ovens, an acclaimed bakery in Bloomer. A longtime employee, McNamara said she will do her best to maintain the traditional atmosphere.
VIVA LA VIE BOHEME. Laura McNamara is the new manager of the Bohemian Ovens, an acclaimed bakery in Bloomer. A longtime employee, McNamara said she will do her best to maintain the traditional atmosphere.

One Bloomer woman is rolling up her sleeves and rolling out the dough as she embarks on her latest role as manager of Bohemian Ovens. Previous owner Mike Hable decided the time had finally come to hand over the reins of the bakery, which was established in 1997.

And just as the retiree bid farewell in favor of his exciting new pursuit (shrimp farming), long-time employee Laura McNamara didn’t hesitate in stepping up to the plate.

“When Mike talked about leaving, it seemed like a natural transition to make,” McNamara explained. “I have loved this place for many years and have kind of become part of the family.”

Bohemian Ovens has been an integral part of McNamara’s life since she began working there as a high school student in 2004. After a short break during her college days, the aspiring baker returned to the restaurant to work full time.

“Of course I never completely left,” McNamara confessed. “My heart has always been here.”

McNamara’s love for the well-established business goes hand-in-hand with her passion for baking. While customers often stop in for the hearty breakfasts and Czechoslovakian fare, the restaurant is always stocked with a tasty variety of pies, breads, and other sweet treats all prepared in its specialty brick oven.

“Seeing my completed product makes me feel great,” McNamara said. “It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed.”

Even though the new manager is stirring up the batter in this old-time restaurant, she has no intention of spoiling tradition. Instead, McNamara expects simply to build upon the qualities that already make Bohemian Ovens one of the best bakeries around (at least according to Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll).

“I am hoping to expand,” McNamara explained. “(I’d like to) be in more stores and do more farmers markets. But other than that, the menu, the recipes, and the staff are still the same. We still do make-your-own-pizza night, the lutefisk dinner, and the normal breads. The traditions are the heart of the business. They haven’t changed, and they won’t be changing.”

And as McNamara puts her hands into the batter and her heart into the traditions, she admits the real motivation behind her business move was not the establishment itself, but the people that fill it.

“The people were my inspiration,” McNamara said. “The wonderful relationships I’ve developed with customers, employees, and even this town. Their love and support for this business are everything – they’re the glue that keeps me together.”

And as the bakery expands, staff changes around, and customers come and go, one thing that’s guaranteed to remain forever is the place the bakery holds in McNamara’s heart.

“Mike had an amazing idea and turned it into a dream that has become mine as well,” McNamara said. “I couldn’t see myself without this place … it has become a part of who I am.”

Bohemian Ovens • 905 Martin Road, Bloomer • (715) 568-3676 • www.facebook.com/bohemianovens

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