Bake

Photo by Nick Fiala

After almost 15 years, Rensselaer’s well-known bakery on Washington Street will fall under new ownership.

Rex and Tammy Clauss recently announced that Wednesday October 31 was to be their last day as owners of Clauss Bakery on Washington Street. After shutting the doors that day, the couple completed almost 15 years of running the bakery, which attracted locals through its unique food service and also served as a gathering place during public events.

Rex Clauss recently looked back on how he came to own the location.

“A buddy of mine kind of bet me one day that I couldn’t make this work,” He said on Wednesday. “I was in the insurance business. Him and I had coffee here about two times a week. And it was closing, and I said...’Watch me. I’ll make that work.’”

Clauss soon consulted the owners who had recently sold the place. He offered to buy it from them if it should come back into their ownership. Then, one day, that’s exactly what happened. Since then, the Clauss’ have relied on locals to keep them in business, which they have gratefully done for more than a decade.

“The city of Rensselaer’s treated me so fine,” Rex said. “They’ve really helped us out.”

Unfortunately, though, Rex Clauss’ heart health has recently declined to the point that he is currently waiting on a transplant. He said this has made the stress of running the store impossible to bear.

“Now my health is so bad that I just can’t work,” he said. “...It gets worse everyday...So I decided it’s time for me to go...I would never do it if I was a healthy man.”

He will still be looking for work to make a living, but it will have to be found somewhere that can better accommodate his health concerns.

“I’ve had a great time,” he said. “I can’t complain. I’ve had a wonderful life here...I just meet a lot of really neat people. I’ve got a lot of friends...This city’s really been kind to me.”

Brandie Garrison, who has been working at the bakery for around a month now, will be taking over ownership of the bakery. It will be renamed as “Brandie’s Bakery & Café.” She said it was the fulfillment of a long-held dream to own a restaurant.

“I love baking,” she said on Wednesday. “I’ve sold pumpkin rolls for years from home. So I decided to step up. I made him an offer, and he accepted.”

Garrison said the Bakery will be maintaining its current schedule for the time being, though a few changes may be coming later on down the road. This schedule is 5 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday — Friday, and 5-11 a.m. on Saturday. Garrison said the bakery will also be honoring its traditional recipes, particularly the donut recipe, which has not changed at all in 61 years.

With new ownership coming in to carry on those traditions, the Clauss’ recently bid goodbye to the community with the following post on the bakery’s Facebook page:

“It has been a wonderful 14 years,” the couple stated. “This community has embraced and supported us from day one, and we thank you for that. There are no words that can express what it has been like to have your support, encouragement and prayers. We will miss the day-to-day very much, but we’ll always be grateful for the memories. Thank you, Rensselaer.”