Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread house on North Broadway will be closing and is for sale. (Matt Stolle/mstolle@postbulletin.com)

A decision to close a long-time business might look like a sad ending, but for Gingerbread House owner Mike Fish, it's a leap of faith.

Fish says he asked God for guidance about what to do with the North Broadway bakery, which has been beset by a variety of problems over the past three years, culminating in a series of employee health issues starting four weeks ago.

The answer? Fish has decided to close the bakery for good on Sept. 7.

"It's hard to walk away from it. It took two weeks to accept the answer God gave me," he said. "This has been my life. I don't know anything else. It's all I've ever done."

But he's certain this is the path God wants him and his family to follow.

"I'm walking in deep water and I can't see the other side, but I'm going to take this jump," said Fish.

In the wake of the closure of many long-time Rochester businesses, some observers have speculated that the loss of the Gingerbread House is due to the upcoming Broadway renovation and assessments, or maybe the city's rising property taxes.

"The Broadway project was a scary thing at first. And we've had increased property taxes of 30 percent," said Fish. "But we were OK with it all. I knew we could weather it. These are just the growing pains."

And it wasn't any side effect from the changes to Rochester from Destination Medical Center that caused the closure, he added.

It's busy at the small bakery these days as customers line up for what might their last order of doughnut holes or cupcakes.

Beside baking and making deliveries, Fish is working to help his 24 employees find new jobs. He is open to selling the business, but no offers are on the table.

He understands why people are so upset about his small business closing.

"We provide a product that touches the heart. These are the things your grandmother made because she loves you," he said. "New places are cold and sterile. In here, Rochester still feels like a small town. This is a place where people can just be themselves."

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 285-7798.

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