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Bismarcks, doughnuts and coffee anyone? Mayville bakery opens under new owner, same recipes

After more than two months closed, Soholt Bakery reopened on March 7 under the ownership of Janet Holt.

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Janet Holt, owner of Soholt Bakery in Mayville, stocks the front counter before opening Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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MAYVILLE, N.D. – A typical day at Soholt Bakery begins at midnight. Dozens of doughnuts, loaves of bread and sweet rolls are waiting to be baked. For the team of three employees at the Mayville bakery, it is just the start of a long, busy day.

By 6 a.m., most of the baking is done, and Janet Holt, her son, Tanner Holt, and employee Jessica Estrada are doing the final preparations for the busy day ahead — frosting the last doughnuts, slicing the final loaves of bread and filling display cases. It is a routine that is still new to the three of them, but one that they have started to get the hang of in the week and a half the bakery has been open.

After more than two months closed, Soholt Bakery reopened on March 7 under the ownership of Janet Holt. The former owners, Tom and Rick Soholt, retired in December 2021. With a 104-year history in Mayville and with doughnuts that have become popular across the region, Janet knows she is continuing a legacy.

“I’m hoping that we can fill those shoes, or at least begin to put them on,” said Janet.

She said the community support during her first week running the bakery was unbelievable.

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“I could not imagine the support that we received last week. It was really, really incredible.”

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Soholt bakery was opened in 1918 by Rick and Tom’s grandfather, Ed Soholt. Jerome “Red” Soholt, Tom and Rick’s father, and his brother, Arlin, joined the business after World War II. Tom bought the bakery in 1972, and Rick joined as a co-owner in 1984, making them the third generation of the family to run the bakery.

Janet, while not a Soholt, is loosely related to the Soholt family. She grew up in Hillsboro, and her late husband was one of the Soholts’ cousins.

When Janet heard Tom and Rick were looking into retirement, she was living in Arizona, working as a nurse. She started considering buying the bakery in January 2021.

Tanner serves as the head baker at Soholt Bakery. He says his mother told him about her idea to purchase the bakery and asked him to join her there during a car ride.

“I was not really doing too much anyway, so I might as well give it a shot,” he said. “That’s kind of how it all started."

In July, she met with Tom and Rick to talk about the bakery and what they hoped for its future. In Tom and Rick’s final months at the bakery, Tanner came in a few times to learn their tricks of the trade. After Christmas in 2021, the bakery closed under Tom and Rick, and Janet officially took over.

After months of renovations, the bakery opened again on March 7. So far, Tom and Rick have kept coming in to help bake in the mornings.

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“They’re all in to make sure that we are as well-prepared as possible to continue the bakery,” said Janet.

Not only will the bakery continue, but the recipes will too. On any weekday morning, the display cases are filled with the same baked goods they have been filled with since the bakery opened in 1918 — raspberry-filled Bismarcks, caramel and cinnamon rolls, cookies, cake doughnuts and freshly baked bread. For the 104 years it has been open, the bakery has used Soholt family recipes, a tradition that Janet intends to continue.

“All the recipes that they use, we are going to continue, at least for now,” she said. “We have several things that we are going to bring forward, but we’re not going to change anything that they have done.”

Her ideas for new recipes include croissants, muffins, coffee cake and savory breakfast foods, like egg bites.

While the family recipes remain the same, the bakery has seen physical changes in the months since it changed owners. Under the Soholts, the bakery had always been just a bakery, with a counter in the front, and the bakery in the back. Now, the space in the shop has probably doubled, says Janet. She knocked down a wall between the bakery and the office space next door, and converted it into a seating area, with tables, chairs and a self-serve coffee bar. The front windows have tables made from shelves of the bakery’s old oven. Everything received a fresh coat of paint.

“People have loved the concept of being able to just kind of hang out and enjoy their treat,” said Janet.

Since opening last week, the doughnut demand has risen.

“Every morning, we’ve been making more and more doughnuts than we made beforehand,” Tanner said.

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Each tray holds approximately three dozen doughnuts.

“At the end of the week, we did five trays of each doughnut, and that’s doing this all by ourselves in the morning” he said.

At 6:30 a.m., the doors open for the day. It doesn’t take long for customers to start filing in.

The first two in the bakery on Wednesday morning, March 16, were Kelly Archambeau of Mayville and Gloria Balboa of Portland. They get coffee together most mornings.

“... Now that they reopened, we come here because it’s local. You have to support the local guy,” said Archambeau.

Soon after came Adele Aasen, who drove 18 miles from Hillsboro to grab Bismarcks for her husband and carrot cake for herself.

“It’s worth the trip,” she said.

By 7 a.m., just 30 minutes after opening, nearly a dozen customers had stopped by the bakery for some doughnuts, coffee or sweet treats to go.

In these first few days since the bakery reopened, doughnuts are completely sold out by the 1:30 p.m. closing time.

“The first few days I thought ‘Oh, this is just the novelty of it,’ and I think there’s a little bit of that,” said Janet. “People come in just to see what we’re all about, and I’m hoping that it continues. I’d love to make it a destination.”

Related Topics: MAYVILLE
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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