As a light rain fell on a June morning, Tim Cron was walking his dogs while carrying a cup of coffee. He explained how a native of one of the most densely populated states in the country ended up running a popular bakery in the small town of Idaho.
After driving the dogs home, Cron returned to the Stanley Baking Co., where the smells of coffee, pancakes and eggs, and the clinking of dishes greeted visitors who were vying for a place on the porch in view of steep Williams and Thompson from Sawtooth Range. peaks.
By 7 a.m., there was already a line outside the bakery on Wall Street in Stanley, the recreational hub of Sawtooth Valley.
Inside, some customers perused the breakfast menu, while others sat with cups of coffee at tables under log beams, awaiting their orders. Behind a line of dining room stools and an espresso bar, employees whipped up the day’s offerings, starting with a platter full of diced sweet potatoes.
What locals call “the bakery” has been owned by Cron, 47, and his wife, Becky, 52, since 2003, six years after Cron moved to Idaho.
In the 20 years since, the café and bakery has become perhaps the most well-known business in town, drawing crowds of hikers, rafters and tourists on summer mornings.
The bakery is open from May to October and closed for the winter, when temperatures in Stanley can dip deep into the negative numbers. But in the summer, the bakery is a popular way station, where visitors to the Boise area can find a surprisingly wide range of food before venturing into the valley.
What is on the menu?
Colleen Higman and her husband lived in Hailey – over an hour’s drive from Stanley – while her daughter and her partner lived in Boise – over 2.5 hours away. Still, the two parties were meeting at the Stanley Bakery for lunch, just for the day trip.
In 2018, Higman’s daughter got married to Stanley and they bought 75 cinnamon rolls from the bakery every morning for wedding guests. Higman now lives part-time at Hailey and her daughter at Driggs, but they still go back to the Stanley and the bakery.
“If I have people in town, I take them there all the time,” she said over the phone.
When the bakery announced in May on Facebook that it was opening for the season, one commenter said it offered the “best breakfast in the United States.”
The bakery serves daily breakfast egg specialties, pancakes, French toast, oatmeal and sandwiches.
The menu includes a number of vegetarian, gluten-free and even vegan options. Oatmeal pancakes – starting at $5.25 for a large pancake – are the most popular item.
Cron’s favorite dish is quinoa breakfast, which consists of packets of quinoa topped with eggs or tofu, almond cream, sautéed vegetables and toast for $11.75. He also likes homemade sauerkraut.
The classic breakfast – eggs, meat, potatoes and toast – is $10.75. A beet patty with turnips, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, rice and hazelnuts on arugula with egg or tofu, avocado, almond cream and toast costs $13.25.
The bakery’s range of healthy options — which Cron said was run by his wife — put it in a different category.
Cron said he often hears about people who are vegan or gluten-free who get frustrated when they go to restaurants that don’t have options for them.
“We’re quite proud that you can have breakfast here…that’s specific to your dietary restrictions,” he said.
Coffee features prominently, with large thermoses available throughout the day, as well as made-to-order espresso drinks.
“Coffee is the drink of the gods,” Cron said. “We believe that if you are a breakfast place, you should serve good coffee.”
Oat milk lattes are a popular order. The bakery beans are from a company in Eugene.
What is the draw?
Stanley is a gateway town surrounded by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a remote region of high peaks, alpine lakes and abundant wildlife.
Cron said the bakery complements the recreation center’s offerings.
“We think it’s a small destination,” he said. “People come to Stanley to see the mountains and be in nature. But I think a lot of people like to start their day here.
When Stanley is overrun with visitors in the summer, running the bakery and cafe is a full-time priority. So does preparing for the season, in May, which Cron says takes about two weeks.
In the summer, Becky runs the bakery, while Tim helps run both the bakery and the Sawtooth Hotel, a nine-room hotel and restaurant the couple bought with Cron’s sister-in-law in the mid-2000s.
The hours can be long.
On July 6, Tim said Becky started her day around 4 a.m. and left around 5 p.m.
“She’s an amazing worker and she loves being in there creating all these treats,” he said.
The bakery relies on employees, some of whom live in nearby accommodation provided by the bakery. The bakery would be “gobbled up” if it weren’t for the 8 to 10 employees who return each year, he said.
Stanley is facing a severe housing crisis, as there are not enough accommodations for the seasonal employees that local businesses rely on. Cron, who also sits on the city council, camped out the first year he owned the bakery, he said.
Although not a carpenter by trade, Cron helped make an addition to the bakery building, which was originally built in 1999. He was also the “general contractor”, as he put it, for the renovation of the Sawtooth Hotel, which was originally built in 1931 and is only two blocks from the bakery.
Now he is working on building a house on the outskirts of town, which takes up a lot of his time in the winter. The bakery and hotel close during the colder months, giving the owners time to ski and pursue other projects.
Cron said that just as moving to Stanley was a lifestyle choice, he chose to close in the winter.
“You want to be able to have time and, you know, peace and quiet,” he said. “We are all ski buffs, and having our winters to be able to ski every day was more important than trying to make the winter business work.”
And while the bakery remains a popular hub, Cron said the number of restaurants offering high-quality “artisanal” fare in town has grown in recent years, with additions like the Stanley Supper Club on Niece Avenue.
“We have this little niche of cool, soulful restaurants,” he said.
“Closer to nature”
Cron grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut, where his parents were math teachers.
At Middlebury College in Vermont, he became addicted to skiing. Later he came to Ketchum and started working for the ski patrol in Sun Valley.
He also got a job in the kitchen of the Pioneer Saloon in Ketchum. As a broiler assistant, he was responsible for the baked potatoes. There he met Becky, who had moved from Eugene, Oregon, to ski and worked at the saloon as a waiter.
While dating, the two traveled to Stanley to go mountain biking. They would visit the bakery, then under another owner.
“We’ve always been intrigued by the idea of living in Stanley and trying to run a small business,” he said.
In 2001, they married in Stanley, and when the bakery went up for sale, “we both had one of those moments where it’s like we could do it,” Cron said.
Cron said life in Stanley is dominated by the natural landscape.
“We have the Boulder-White Clouds, we have the Sawtooths,” he said, referring to nearby mountain ranges. “We live, I think, as close to nature as possible.”
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 04:00.