By Don Nelson
There’s a rowboat hanging from the ceiling, a 19th-century high-wheeler bicycle mounted on a wall, and cross country skis hanging over a doorway. You might think Steve and Teresa Mitchell were planning ways to escape their Rocking Horse Bakery, under whatever conditions, if flight becomes necessary.
But the Mitchells are definitely staying put in their remodeled, much larger space on Riverside Avenue in Winthrop. All those conveyances are decorative antiques — part of a collection of historic touches the Mitchells have added throughout the bakery’s expanded, light-filled seating areas.
Many of the items are on loan from the Shafer Museum or from locals like Kit McLean, who brought in a couple of old saddles and a seven-foot-wide spread of steer horns, among other things, that will add to the bakery’s rustic appeal.
Other items come for the Mitchells’ own family collections. Customers have already offered to bring in their own historic keepsakes. And the Mitchells have more ideas for additional displays, including something about the history of the building.
The bakery had a “soft opening” on Friday, after a couple of months of remodeling the space most recently occupied by Fasse North Cascade Realty but historically significant as the Okanogan County Electric Co-op building. Claude Miller, who was in the bakery on Monday, helped build the original structure.
“We had lines out the door [last weekend],” Steve Mitchell said.
The remodeling incorporated a lot of “repurposed” materials from the building, Mitchell said. Local artisans including Phil and Solomon Woras and Jerry Merz added special touches, such as the metal sculpture of wheat stalks that Merz designed to adorn the bread rack.
The space has high, wood-beamed ceilings and broad plank floors. The Mitchells have used dividers (such as an old window casing complete with glass) and furniture groupings to create several distinct seating areas, including a room overlooking the Methow River that they will make available at no charge for group meetings.
The bakery’s former space is right next door. The real estate company moved to the other end of the building and will expand into a part of the former bakery space. The rest of the old space will be re-opened at some point, possibly as a retail store, with a connection to the new area.
The heart of the operation — the kitchen — stayed right where it was. “We don’t want to lose focus on the food,” Mitchell said. The bakery will expand its offerings for a more varied menu, he added.
Mitchell said the remodeled space is intended to be comfortable for locals, and to help visitors understand the valley and its history.
“We want this to be a community gathering spot … where people can enjoy and admire the historical pieces here,” he said. “Everything on the walls has a story.”
The bakery will also be a showcase for local art. Currently, the works of Kayla White and Omaste Witkowski are featured.