Hilda’s Bakery to spring back with bread, pastries, coffee and wi-fi

Plans include cinnamon rolls from 150-year-old recipe
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Eric Nordby, who opened Little Belgian Deli & Beer Bar in 2011 in Downtown Auburn and World Pub in 2009 in North Auburn is taking on a new challenge. He’s reopening Hilda’s Bakery.
The bakery was a fixture on Lincoln Way for more than 30 years. The original owners Joe and Catherine Kleinbach sold the business in 2007 and it was run as Paula’s until it closed in 2011.
Now Nordby is taking over the building, restoring the name and working with the Kleinbachs to bring back the original recipes.
“Something like Hilda’s has an extreme amount of good will — people grew up on it and loved it,” he said. “When I saw it had become available, I decided to (reopen it) even though I’m exhausted with the deli. We wanted to restore it and give it another 30-year run.”
It will have much of its original flavor, but Nordby is adding his own signature touches, too.
“We’ll have pastries and high-end coffees,” he said. “We’re putting in tables and chairs. We have them handcrafted by Dave Coelier, who makes custom furniture in Auburn.”
The new logo was designed by Traci Owens of Studio Eight 02 in Auburn.
“One of our big goals is to have everything be Auburn artists and Auburn contractors,” he said.
The initial emphasis will be on bread.
“Eventually we hope to become a production bakery again and (bake bread for) restaurants and boutique stores,” he said. “That will be our five-year goal.”
The project is part of a long-term vision and venture for Nordby and his investors.
“We just want to create things that will be around for (decades),” he said. “Right now the most important thing is creating jobs.”
That will be accomplished a little at a time as the businesses open and grow.
“We start out with one person and give them a little piece of the business with the hope that eventually they’ll be able to buy out the business,” he said. “In the meantime they are working with me and training and learning how I do things. Then they can keep that culture. … We have a lot of really neat mom and pop businesses to compete with the onslaught of corporate businesses that are all kind of the same. I want to have things that are unique.”
Initially Hilda’s will have a six person staff, including a head baker as well as a coffee expert — Jessica Woods, owner of Ro-Sham-Bo Boutique in Downtown Auburn.
Woods will also continue to operate Ro-Sham-Bo.
“She’ll come in early and help us get the store going and train our staff on how to make elite coffees,” Nordby said.
Woods worked in a coffee restaurant in Sacramento for about five years.
“It is something I miss and I thought it would be a nice way to get back into that,” she said. “And I really like what he’s doing with his other businesses, so I think it is a great thing to be part of.”
Woods grew up in the Auburn area and has fond memories of the former bakery.
“We used to go to Hilda’s all the time for lunch and to get breads and baked goods,” she said. “The Dutch crunch bread and the mint brownies were my favorites.”
In fact, bringing back the Dutch crunch is a request Nordby hears frequently.
“That will be the first thing out of the oven — I promised everybody,” he said.
His goal is to have the doors open by early April.
“We plan on being open as early as 5:30 or 6 a.m. and we’ll be open late at night,” he said. “We’ll make it a warm inviting place. We’ll have wi-fi and a printer that’s open for kids. There will be huge table where kids can sit and work together on projects, work on homework and listen to music. There will be good coffee, good pastries, great bread and conversations.”
Because the new Hilda’s will have seating, there will be less room for display space.
“We’ll have a rotation of things,” he said about the menu. “The Kleinbachs perfected their craft. They were amazing, but it was over 30 years. It will take us some time and we’ll keep trying until we achieve that goal.”
There will also be special-order available for parties and events.
“We’ll be using the bread at Little Belgian Deli,” he said. “We’ll bring it still warm for sandwiches there throughout the day. People say ‘your sandwiches are great, but they will never be as great as when Hilda’s was open’. So that’s one reason I decided I wanted to make these breads.”
Customers will also find some new items.
“One thing we’ll be working on developing is gluten free bread that is a normal size loaf,” he said. “It does cost a little more to do it, but I don’t think that people who have certain allergies should be ripped off.”
Nordby, who is of Norwegian heritage, will introduce some special family favorites. One of those is a 150-year-old cinnamon-roll recipe.
“These are giant, amazing cinnamon roles that have these great plugs of brown sugar and butter on the bottom,” he said.
During the holidays, he’ll have lefsa, Norwegian flat bread made from potato flour.
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Hilda’s Bakery
1102 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn
Opening: Early April