Going on a quarter century of making original cakes, cookies, breads and more, the Freeport is a Sacramento institution. Marlene Goetzeler (one of the bakery’s owners) didn’t realize the extent of their popularity until she took phone orders just this past Mother’s Day. 10-12 phone calls came from customers who were asking directions from at least 40-45 minutes away. Once a solely neighborhood destination, customers now come from places like Roseville and Auburn just to pick up items such as the Fruit Basket Cake (the most requested on the menu, which is composed of three layers of buttermilk cake, filled with strawberries and bananas, then frosted with whipped cream) and the potato knishes (a savory pastry with potato filling).
The success story of Freeport Bakery began when Marlene, originally from Chicago, met her husband Walter while running a bookstore in San Diego. In the early eighties, they heard from friends in Sacramento that there was a bakery up for sale. Since Walter had a background in pastry and bread making, (while in Germany, Walter’s family had a bakery in their house), they decided to purchase the bakery and relocate.
At first, there were only seven employees on staff, and the bakery was more of a cake shop than a full service bakery like it is today. When Marlene and Walter took over, they added danishes and breads to the menu. Other items they now sell include quiche, biscotti, pies and cheesecakes.
I asked Marlene what she thought the most important thing was that she has learned by owning her own business and being in partnership with her husband.
“To respect each other's abilities and to honor those.” She answered. She was referring to the distinct talents that she and her husband possess. She is a savvy business and marketing specialist, and he, so gifted in the art of recipe and managing the production of the baked goods. Marlene also stressed the importance of her staff. She spoke volumes about the dedication of her employees, especially at busy times like the winter holidays and Mother's Day, and graduation and wedding season.
Freeport Bakery definitely has a talented and caring staff. Bakery production has grown so much, that the original staff of seven has grown to over 30 and now includes a management team. One manager each for baking, cake decorating, training, and sales.
During last holiday season, Freeport Bakery was hired by the Governor’s staff to create a giant gingerbread model of the Capital Building. It was approximately 6 ft long by 4 feet wide by four feet high! It took 3 solid days to make, and it required onsite assembly with ladders.
Another construction that required a bit of climbing was the largest wedding cake that Freeport has ever produced. It was 13 tiers (four of them being 18” wide). This cake also required onsite assembly and decoration.
Mrs. Goetzeler noted that she and Walter definitely “live and breathe the bakery.” They take very little time off and live very close by. She added that despite the time sacrifice, it was definitely a very rewarding life. Marlene smiled as she told me one of the most fulfilling things was being able to give her employees the option to have a 401K plan. What is next on the agenda for the bakery? An outdoor remodel with new landscaping.
During my chat with Marlene, I sampled a few items, including one of their signature cakes, the Blackout Cake. Anyone partial to chocolate would enjoy a slice, served in sheet sizes only, a dense sour cream chocolate cake with thick “blackout” frosting. A savory item I really enjoyed was the pizza ring, which is made from their sweet french bread dough and formed into a spiral, and topped with pizza sauce and rich cheddar cheese. I was particularly impressed with their selection of breads and savories, and took home two of Walter’s original recipe Bavarian-style pretzels.
Freeport Bakery is the perfect destination for any occasion requiring a sweet reward or a savory snack. The fine marriage between European and American baking is beautifully showcased in every pastry, pie, cake, and bread, made from scratch and with love by the loyal employees and the proud owners.