Dietz Bakery in Fredericksburg preserves a wholesome slice of Americana -- fresh baked goods. Every morning a line of customers forms in front of the little bakery on Main Street waiting for the doors to open at 8am and the first choice of the day's cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and breads.
"We're not the oldest bakery in Fredericksburg," says Don Dietz, "but we are the oldest bakery in town that has been in the same family." The oldest bakery in town is across the street.
Originally called Schult's Bakery in 1924, Dietz Bakery began in 1928 when Don's great-uncle bought the small business. Don's grandfather ran the bakery between 1939 and 1954, when his father took over. Don and his wife, Marcia, have continued the popular tradition since 1975. Don does most of the baking chores while Marcia runs the front counter, which includes a small gift shop.
Don learned the baking business the old-fashioned way -- by being raised among the yeast and big ovens. "Our house was connected to the bakery back then," Don says. "When I came down for breakfast my mother would be feeding all the workers. It was like a harvest time meal with all the workers eating together.
"We're kind of a dinosaur," Don says, "we hold on to the old ways of baking." There are no frozen ingredients used in the cinnamon twists and Danish served from the small glass counter, and everything is made from scratch.
You can taste the subtle difference in the flavor of Dietz's baked goods. The legendary homemade bread that has been gracing Fredericksburg tables and lunch boxes for 60 years is still the bakery's biggest seller. Don makes white, wheat, pumpernickel, rye, and French breads. White bread, doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls are the most popular items.
To the get the best selection, you better get there early. The bakery opens at 8am and closes when everything is sold out. "Hopefully by noon," Don says. On Saturdays and holidays they double-bake, but locals and visitors still clean off the shelves. The baker's day begins at 1am and doesn't end until everything is cleaned up around 3pm. It's a little hard to get used to the schedule, he says.
The Dietz family bakery was originally at 312 E. Main next to the Nimitz Hotel until 1965, when it moved to its current location. Born and raised in Fredericksburg, Don moved to Dallas for a while before returning to take over the family bakery. The town he grew up in is dramatically different than the Fredericksburg of today, Don says.
Through the Fifties and Sixties, Fredericksburg was a small but bustling agricultural town serving the surrounding farms and ranches. Settled by German immigrants in 1846, the town grew steadily partially because of its location on the road to El Paso and California. Fort Martin Scott, the first federal army frontier post in Texas, was established on the outskirts of Fredericksburg to protect the settlers and travelers.
The German settlers, many of whose families still live in the area, left behind an enduring legacy. The Sunday houses the farmers built to use on weekend visits to town are a part of local hotel industry. The store fronts lend a quaint look and feel to the Main Street that is now lined with shops and restaurants that cater to visitors.
Don says that the town began to change in the early Seventies. The transition from an agriculture-based economy to more of a tourism-based economy slowed during the oil embargo of the Seventies, but had changed the face of Fredericksburg forever. "With Austin and San Antonio growing so dramatically," Don says, "smaller communities are growing too."
Don and Marcia Dietz have no intention of following the trends in bakeries, but rather rely on the same recipes that his grandfather used. For them Fredericksburg still has the same small-town feel that they missed when they lived in Dallas.
The oldest bakery in town is The Fredericksburg Bakery, which was established in 1917, but has gone through a succession of owners. The bakery is now owned by an old schoolmate, Mike Penick. "We see each other about once a year," Don says. "We try to help each other when we can. Everybody is just trying to make a living."
Dietz Bakery, 218 E. Main, opens at 8am Tuesday through Saturday. Special orders can be made by calling 830/997-3250. The Fredericksburg Bakery, 141 E. Main, is across the street and down a block and opens 8am-5:30pm Monday through Saturday and 8am-5pm on Sunday.
Coming up this weekend...
Doss Community Fair in the village north of Fredericksburg off US87 welcomes visitors to small-town fun, Aug. 15. 830/997-6523.
Prazka Pout and Praha Feast at St. Mary's Church in Flatonia celebrates Czechs in Texas with food and games, Aug. 15. 512/865-3560.
Accordion Bash in San Antonio features the best squeezebox maestros to benefit the YMCA, Aug. 14-16. 210/246-9622.
Ice Cream Smorgasbord in American Legion Hall at Brenham's Fireman's Park invites visitors to eat all they can and what's left Blue Bell Creamery will sell, Aug. 17. 888/273-6426.
Gillespie County Fair in Fredericksburg begins on Friday with a parade down Main Street and continues at the fairgrounds south of town on TX16 through Aug. 23. 830/997-6523.
Kids Fair in San Antonio takes over the Alamodome for a trade and fun convention for all ages mixing the latest trends with a good old-fashioned carnival, Aug. 22-23. 210/207-3663.
Outlaw Boat Races at Atlanta State Park breaks the peace and quiet with the roar of high horsepower boats blasting down a 1,000-foot straightaway, Aug. 22. 903/796-6476.
West Country Caper takes visitors on a tour of England's literary sites from Jane Austen's manors to tracing the footsteps of Agatha Christi, Oct. 3-11. 817/731-8551 or http://www.fastlane.net/~cdtravel.