Sweet Successor: New owner steps up to run Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

NEW AT SUE’S. Kerry Bauer took over as owner of Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop, 1319 Birch St., in January.
NEW AT SUE’S. Kerry Bauer took over as owner of Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop, 1319 Birch St., in January.

Kerry Bauer, the new owner of Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop, 1319 Birch St. in Eau Claire, believes that a hometown bakery such as the one Sue Ranney has owned and operated for more than 20 years is an increasingly rare find. “We’re artists here,” Bauer said. “What we made is handmade – it doesn’t come out of a box, or off a truck. It’s a dying art, and I don’t want it to die.”

“We’re artists here. What we made is handmade – it doesn’t come out of a box, or off a truck. It’s a dying art, and I don’t want it to die.” – Kerry Bauer, owner, Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop

Bauer took the helm at the little bakery at the end of January. On a recent Tuesday, a regular customer spoke up over the din of trays, wire shelves, and mixing machines to wish Bauer luck as the new owner.

Bauer said that Ranney left big shoes to fill. “I feel sometimes a little nervous about it and intimidated, but she taught me well, and she’s always there to lean on.”

Bauer calls Ranney a few times a week, if not a few times a day, with questions or to check in. Ranney also steps back in regularly to fill a shift.

Bauer was working at a local jewelry store in May when one of her customers mentioned that Ranney was having a difficult time finding the right buyer for the shop. She had first decided to retire in 2016, and listed the shop for sale. Two years later, nothing had stuck. Bauer approached Ranney later that month.

The two arranged a test-run; Bauer, who had no professional baking experience, took on morning shifts at the bakery for a week. Between the hours of 3am and 11am for those few days, she decided it was the job for her.

Ranney taught her successor everything she could about the business, passing on recipes from memory.

“She’s a great lady to work with. She reassured me that it was something that I could do,” Bauer said. “With the two of us, it lightened the load. Now that she’s gone it’s a little bit different,” Bauer said with a chuckle.

As time goes on, Bauer plans to introduce new flavors and recipes to the bakery, making her own mark on the local favorite. But she has no intention to mess with the classic treats Ranney has been selling for years. Also in the works are some updates to the decor and the introduction of a credit card reader. These changes will help to expand the shop’s customer base, she said.

Keeping a specialty shop like Sue’s Deluxe Bakery growing will also require Bauer to keep an eye on the future. She is already considering her own succession. Few people want to wake up early and put in so many hours “busting their butt,” she said, but that’s what it will take.

“I want Sue’s legacy and her parents’ legacy to live on, and I want to make a go of it so she’s proud and she’s happy, and so the community can continue to have these things,” Bauer said.

Sue’s Deluxe Bake Shop is open 7am-5:30pm Monday-Friday. More information is available online at eauclairebakery.com.

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