Sweet treats return to Meeker

MEEKER | At long last, Meeker has a bakery again, and residents have been very receptive.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming. We’ve been so busy,” said Janice Millar.
The White River Bakery, owned and operated by Millar and Mike McPherson, opened at the end of March in the building that formerly housed Brothers Processing at 101 East Market St.
McPherson grew up here. He came to Meeker in the second grade and remembers The Bakery, which was owned and operated by Dave and Enid Steffen for almost 30 years, closing in 2009.
McPherson later moved to Brigham City, Utah. Like many others, his schooling doesn’t match his trade. He went to school to be a mechanic, but found himself working in Utah at a grocery with a “scratch” bakery. A scratch bakery creates its products the way our grandparents did, from scratch… no mixes involved.
“I’m a journeyman baker,” McPherson said. “I learned on the job.”
He describes himself as a “production baker,” whereas his partner, Janice Millar, is a “finish baker.” He handles the dough, she takes care of the frostings and finishes.
Millar is originally from Fort Bridger, Wyo. She owned and operated her own bakery in Brigham City. When it closed she went to work in the grocery where McPherson was employed. They’ve known each other for “17 or 18 years.”
Millar has been baking since she was 14. Her first job was as a clean-up girl in a Mountain View, Wyo., bakery. She raised six children, four of her own and two adopted, while working in a bakery in Ogden, Utah, at Hardees, and during a seven-year stint as a district manager for Subway.
“I learned a lot of things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise,” Millar said of her time with the national chain. She’s applying that knowledge now, she said.
McPherson has lived and worked in Utah and Colorado. He returned to Meeker three years ago after the death of his wife. He is the father of two 15-year-olds, one birth child and one adopted child. “We adopted and didn’t know we were pregnant. They are nine months apart.” One of his children has special needs, and returning home to Meeker, where his parents live and can help provide a support system, made sense to him.
Millar came to Meeker in February 2018. For this Wyoming native the small town “feels like home.”
Working together has been a joy, since they both understand the industry.
“If I say I need to go in at 1 a.m., he understands,” Millar said.
Their days generally start around 2 a.m. They get to the bakery about 3 a.m. for to open at 6 a.m. Between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. they’re busy making the morning pastries and baked goods folks crave.
“The idea is to have everything fresh every day,” McPherson said. Figuring out how much to prepare is a “guessing game.”
The bakery provides biscuits and gravy, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, turnovers and other baked pastries for breakfast.
“From 6 to 9 a.m. there’s a line out the door.”
The bakery also serves Black Rifle coffee, a coffee company owned and operated by veterans. A portion of the profits goes to veteran organizations. It’s a way for Millar to give back. One of her children is on active military duty.
After the breakfast rush, they prep for the lunch menu: a sandwich and soup daily special. “There’s not a choice, it’s the sandwich and soup of the day.” Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to noon on Monday.
Summer hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. to noon Monday.
There’s also a dining area for customers to enjoy their treats.
The bakery creates decorated cakes for birthdays and special occasions, as well as wedding cakes. Brides can request a wedding cake tasting to decide what kind of cake they want.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for something,” Millar said. “We can make things to order.”