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Waynedale Bakery owners still looking for buyer

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- An iconic Fort Wayne business is struggling to find a buyer, months after it closed its doors for good.

Waynedale Bakery served customers sweet treats for decades.

"Due to some health reasons, we had to step out of the business," Hal Clinger says.

Clinger bought Waynedale Bakery in 2002 with his daughter Christine, and originally worked as the delivery driver.

The family was forced to close the doors in November, but Hal is hoping new owners will maintain it as a bakery.

It's been a Waynedale staple since 1955, with Clinger and his daughter being only the fourth owners in those 65 years.

Waynedale Bakery served customers sweet treats for decades.

He says people who used to come in as kids would come back as adults.

And he's dismayed those interactions are gone.

"It's a dying business, you know? People want faster stuff. But you come in, it smells, and the lunches we used to serve and the people we'd meet. That's the big thing, the people that you meet, the relationships you make with people," he says.

Owning a bakery can be grueling, having to get up in the middle of the night to prep the dough and bake the breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, and pies every day.

Christine Miller says the work took its toll.

"When it gets done, that's when you go home. And then you do it again the next day and so on. So that's kind of what weighed my body down," she says.

Even so, she's hoping someone will take it on.

"It's like a diamond in the rough. They've just got to have that drive and perseverance to make customers happy and make it work. So, yeah, I think there's a right person out there. It could happen.," she says.

The bakery enjoyed a sterling reputation, but its counter was also known as a Waynedale hangout.

Steve Williams was a regular here for about 20 years.

"The apple fritters. They did a really nice job with those. And the rest of it was good, but the apple fritters was the winner," he says.

Aside from the baked goods, though, it's the daily conversations he misses the most.

"The camaraderie of the people that were sitting here drinking coffee and drinking donuts. So more than just a bakery, it was a hangout for you. Yes, it was," he says.

The family says if the store doesn't continue as a bakery, all the equipment and recipes will have to be sold.

They're hoping a buyer will come in time so that doesn't happen.

If you're interested in purchasing Waynedale Bakery, call 422-8474 for more information.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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