The Dutch Bakery in downtown Orange City serves as a social hub for students at all hours of the night. Open at midnight, late-night students grab their homework and head to the Dutch bakery for their free Wi-Fi and daily specials. Owner Loren Mulder enjoys the visits from the college kids. “It’s really my only social life,” he said.
Mulder has owned and operated the Dutch Bakery since he purchased it in September 2009. He had no prior commercial baking experience when he bought it, but was ready and willing to learn. “I worked with the owner for a few weeks at night to see if I liked it,” Mulder stated. Mulder enjoyed his work and decided to buy the bakery and make it a family business. Part of this decision was fueled by a farm accident he had that broke his neck and rendered him unable to do some of the work demanded of dairy farmers. Although the farm is still up and running, Mulder spends his time running the bakery.
Mulder’s wife, Kathy, who has multiple degrees in areas dealing with finance, runs the books and all of the financial parts of the bakery. Loren does the cooking along with a long-time employee, Andy, who, Mulder joked, has the “three ‘F jobs:’ frying, frosting and filling.” A few other employees work during the day, selling the baked goods to both college students and Orange City regulars.
Owning and operating the Dutch Bakery has not been an easy task. As soon as the building was bought it had to be remodeled. “The previous owner was under the grandfather clause, but as soon as we bought it we had to make major changes, such as putting in a bathroom, a new stainless steel sink and recovering all the walls,” explained Mulder. Remolding the storefront was one of the biggest and most noticeable changes. “We wanted to make it more welcoming,” Mulder said. Many students and local residents who remember the bakery before the Mulders owned it would agree with the fact that the bakery is now a lot more welcoming and visually pleasing.
Starting the business was not the only hard part of running the bakery. Mulder has to put in ridiculous hours in order to meet the demand of the bakery. “The other day I came in at 9 p.m. and did not go home until 5 p.m. the next day,” Mulder admitted. Last year during the Tulip Festival, Mulder did not go home once. When and if he slept, he did it right there in the bakery, and then got up and kept baking. “It’s whatever the job takes,” he said.
Loren and Kathy Mulder’s daughter, Marji, is a senior at Northwestern. “He just doesn’t need the sleep, I guess,” she said of her dad’s few hours of rest. Loren and his family understand how hard it is to make a goal and a dream come true, but it is something that they seek to attain anyway, despite all of the hardships.
The Dutch Bakery produces on average 400-550 doughnuts on a regular weekday and 850-950 doughnuts on a Saturday. This does not include cookies and other treats that the bakery has to offer. Doughnuts are by far the most popular item that the bakery sells, with cream-filled, chocolate-covered long johns ranking as most popular. They also offer turnovers, cookies and a plethora of other goodies. It is open every day of the week except Sunday and welcomes college students to come in and grab a bite to eat and get some homework done in a relaxing environment.