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Dutch Bakery building up for sale, but owners want to stay

“The ideal situation is someone buys it and takes us on as tenants,” says Michele Byrne, who owns the family-run operation with two cousins

The owners of the Dutch Bakery and Diner, a fixture on Fort Street downtown for nearly seven decades, have put their building up for sale.

But the third generation of the Schaddelee family, which opened the bakery in 1956, isn’t in a rush to close.

“None of us are getting any younger and there isn’t another generation to take over, so we’re just putting it out there,” said Michele Byrne, who owns the Dutch Bakery with two cousins, Jack and Brook Schaddelee.

“The ideal situation is someone buys it and takes us on as tenants … we really don’t want to close.”

The two-storey building at 716 Fort St. is listed for sale by CBRE Victoria for $2.55 million.

Byrne said it’s important that the Dutch Bakery stays open for what she calls “generations of loyal customers” and for the company’s 19 employees.

Some of those staff members have been at the bakery for ­decades, including bakers Gerry Hambley, who has been working there for 40 years, and Roberto Pivetta, who has been there for 35 years.

“Staff are so important to us … it’s one of the main reasons we’ve been here so long,” said Byrne, who started working in the bakery at 14 then shifted to full-time after ­graduating from high school — as did cousins Jack and Brook Schaddelee.

All are “in or around our 60s,” said Byrne, adding that if the building sells quickly and the new owner has other plans, the Dutch Bakery will likely reopen elsewhere.

“We just want to keep all our options open,” said Byrne.

The bakery and 65-seat diner was doing a booming business as usual over the lunch hour on Thursday, with croquettes and vanilla squares selling at a steady clip and the diner filled with customers for burgers and all-day breakfasts.

The second floor of the building is currently used for washrooms, a staff room and storage.

Byrne’s grandparents, Kees and Mabel Schaddelee, opened the Dutch Bakery and Coffee Shop in 1956 in a rented space on Fort Street, after moving to Victoria from the Netherlands, where they owned a bakery in Rotterdam.

Kees worked as the baker until retiring at 72, but remained a regular, enjoying croquettes and coffee at the diner until his death at age 97 in 2007.

The business has been a true family affair.

All three of the current owners, who took over in 2013, are cousins — children of three of the four sons of Kees and Mabel Schaddelee.

Jack Schaddelee is the head baker, Byrne is front-end manager and bookkeeper, and Brook Schaddelee is the chocolatier and pastry chef — though the trio share roles from time to time.

Byrne is the daughter of Arie and Anke Schaddelee, Jack is the son of Jack and Donna, and Brook is the son of Kees (named after his father) and Bonita.

The family says the bakery still uses the recipes handed down by Kees Schaddelee.

Listing agent Chris Rust of CBRE Victoria said the sale of the property could involve several scenarios, including being part of a land assembly for a larger project. A new owner may want to acquire the property and keep the bakery there on a short-term lease while plans are made, he said.

“Everything is on the table,” said Rust. “The family wanted to open it to the market and look at all the options.”

Rust decribes the property as “an irreplacablebly central location with significant future development potential.”

CBRE said the building is 4,301 square feet and the “buildable area” of the lot is 9,660 square feet.

The real estate company noted that Fort Street falls under the city’s Official Community Plan urban core designation, where up to 24 storeys could be allowed for commercial, institutional and mixed-use buildings.

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— with files from Carla Wilson