Randomly on the way to work today

Salt Lake City’s Avenues Bakery closing Saturday

Damn, one of my favorite neighborhood spots. Though I hadn’t been there in a couple of years, despite being in Salt Lake three or four times each year and driving past the location at E Street and South Temple many times each trip.

Deseret News story after the jump.

Avenues Bakery closing shop due to increase in food prices

A South Temple bakery frequented by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and his family is closing shop for good Saturday, largely because of high food costs.

Owners of the Avenues Bakery, Kathie Chadbourne and Paul Maurer, are moving their business to Ashland, Ore., where rents are lower and foodstuffs are local, slashing some costs in half.

“We’ve been paying high rent all along, ... but Paul and I have been able to absorb that” in the past, Chadbourne said. “As food prices have gone up, they’ve made it impossible for us.”

Seafood, $16 a pound in Salt Lake City, is half that in Ashland, she said. Spices also might go for $2 a pound, a fourth of the Salt Lake cost. Ashland has more local farming, allowing the business to purchase all they need locally.

“You don’t have all the gas, you don’t pay for all the transportation,” Chadbourne said. “That’s what the consumers have to start realizing, is that the prices are higher (here) because we’re bringing it in from the outside. Keep it local and the prices will go down.”

High oil prices, biofuels production, food-consumption rates and a weakened dollar have all contributed to rising food costs, which jumped 7.5 percent in the United States during the past year, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Purdue University agricultural economists.

Food prices are expected to stay high until oil prices go down and the dollar’s value goes up. And they might climb higher still, because the high prices of corn and soybeans have not yet fully shown up in grocery-store prices, the Purdue economists found.

Weather — including floods and drought — also has a significant affect on prices, as damaged crops produce less for a demanding market, the economists said.

While a growing middle class in agriculturally self-sufficient China and India cannot fully shoulder the blame for rising food prices, they do have a growing appetite for oil, which influences the price of food, the Purdue report said.

Americans are adjusting to the costs in various ways. Internet coupon use rose 83 percent between 2005 and 2007, according to a Scarborough Research report issued last week. Eleven percent of households now get coupons off the Internet, although the Sunday newspaper remains the top coupon source, the firm reported.

Milwaukee led the nation in coupon use, with 40 percent of households using them. Salt Lake City ranked 73rd in coupon use, with 17 percent of households using them.

But buying in bulk to run a bakery doesn’t allow much coupon-clipping. And Avenues Bakery didn’t have much relief.

Salt Lake City economic development director Bob Farrington is sad to see the bakery go. The bakery had wanted to move to a 300 South location and also expand its wholesale business there, but the area was not zoned for it, Farrington said. A zoning change could take up to six months, and the owners didn’t have that time to wait. Other lease restrictions also were unattractive to the owners.

“To their credit,” Farrington said, “and to, unfortunately, Salt Lake’s loss, they found a situation where they can buy a business elsewhere and open up” right away. “More time, and there could have been a different outcome (in Salt Lake).”