Published March 2006

Dutch Bakery celebrates
five decades of cake baking,
community building

By Kimberly Hilden
SCBJ Assistant Editor

Oosterwyk’s Dutch Bakery has an espresso machine capable of creating frothy lattes and creamy cappuccinos upon request, but it’s the drip coffee — Bargreen’s — that regulars order to accompany their morning doughnut or an afternoon slice of pie.

Snohomish County Business Journal/ KIMBERLY HILDEN
“We’re a scratch bakery; we bake with no chemicals or preservatives,” says Marja Oosterwyk, who runs the front-counter operations at her family’s business, Oosterwyk’s Dutch Bakery in Marysville. Behind Oosterwyk is a photograph taken decades ago of her parents, Gerard and Nellie Oosterwyk.

“We still sell more drip than anything else,” said Marja Oosterwyk, who runs the front counter of the Marysville bakery that her parents, Dutch immigrants Gerard and Nellie Oosterwyk, began 50 years ago this spring.

Over the years, the cozy shop at 1513 Third St., which still sports the same wallpaper Nellie Oosterwyk put up decades ago, has become a Friday meeting place for the local Norwegian community, whose members come for the clam chowder and conversation.

It has become a must-shop spot for those seeking to buy Dutch cheeses, Delftware and specialty groceries from the Netherlands, including Bolletje Dutch Crispbakes stacked on shelves across from the bakery counter.

And it has become a holiday destination for those desiring such Scandinavian treats as limpa, a sweetened rye bread, and lefse, a Norwegian flatbread, or Dutch delights that include spiced windmill cookies, made fresh daily, just as each of the baked items is.

“We’re a scratch bakery; we bake with no chemicals or preservatives,” said Marja, noting that her dad still gets up in the wee hours of the morning with her brother, Piet, to begin baking for the day.

Although it is well known for its Scandinavian and Dutch baked goods, including julekaka, almond sticks, currant breads and an almond-filled cookie known as gevulde koek, the shop bakes up American favorites, too, from chocolate-chip cookies and brownies to muffins and breads.

During the summer, Oosterwyk’s wedding cakes can be found gracing celebrations across Puget Sound, and Marja, who is in charge of decorating the matrimonial desserts, has been known to complete five wedding cakes in a day during the seasonal frenzy.

While much has stayed the same since the Oosterwyks pulled their first loaf of cardamom bread from the bakery’s ovens, a few aspects of the business have changed.

For one, the bakery, which used to stock its breads at Thriftway, B&M and other area grocery stores, no longer has an active wholesale business, though it still provides bread for a restaurant or two locally.

“I want to stay basically retail,” Marja explained, recalling Saturdays during her childhood when hundreds of loaves would be baked and then trucked all over the area.

Another change is lunch, which Oosterwyk’s added to its menu about 20 years ago, with offerings changing weekly and including up to 15 different sandwiches, a soup of the day — including that clam chowder — and, during the summer, a variety of salads.

Still another change from the bakery’s inception is Marja’s role there. Although she grew up in the business, she left to become a hospital unit clerk, working at Providence Hospital for 18 years before returning to head up the front counter and administrative responsibilities when her mother took ill in the early 1990s and later passed away.

“She was an amazing woman,” Marja said, noting that a photo of her mother and father continues to adorn the front-counter area.

As for the bakery’s future, “we’re trying to keep it as much in the family as possible,” she said, noting that niece Jennifer Harding runs the front counter with her.

“Little independent bakeries like this are really hard to find,” Marja said. “... It’s old-fashioned and wonderful.”

To reach the bakery, call 360-653-3766.

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© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA