Bob Walkenhorst is truly an early bird. He just turned 82 and is still bustling at work before the sun rises. He and his brother Al, 86, have been baking for 67 years. For nearly a half- century, they’ve creamed butter and sifted flour at Carol’s Pastry Shop, their small bakery off Lincoln Street in Sugar House.
“Can you even imagine how many items we’ve baked in that many years?” Al asks.
Al recalls a work week when the shop took an order for 5,000 eclairs…and then the phone rang with a different customer wanting 6,000 eclairs. “We made 11,000 eclairs in two days,” he says. That was a big order. But they have also made epic orders. The elaborately decorated cake Al made for Salt Lake City’s official 150th anniversary celebration measured 12 x 16 feet.
With more than 150 years of combined life experience in Salt Lake City, Bob and Al together offer not only eclairs, cakes, bear claws, cookies, Danishes, cupcakes and pies, but also a vividly recollected oral history of the Salt Lake Valley.
Bob and Al glazed donuts after high school at the Sugar House Bakery, where SL Pizza and Pasta is now. Al can tell stories about Auerbach’s, Salt Lake’s iconic downtown department store, because he baked there. In fact, it was Auerbach’s Tea Room owner who suggested to Al in 1948 that they open a pie shop. Carol was the owner’s wife, and the Carol’s Pastry Shop name has stuck ever since. In 1948, Bob reminisces, they sold pies for 58 cents. Sixty-six years later, the pies cost a little more, but are still categorically good.
The only time Al ever considered a career change was when he was drafted into the Korean War and was put to work in a tank unit. Bob was drafted when Al returned and was assigned “108th Quartermaster Baker” duties, serving his country making bread for the troops.
At Carol’s Pastry Shop, the ingredients, process and business model are all simple. Their business card reads “Al and Bob, Owners.” They have no website; orders are taken by phone. They’ve used the same equipment and recipes for decades. As Bob talks, he naturally tucks his arm into the bib of his apron. “My dad always said, ‘If you make good stuff, they’ll come back,’” and after 67 years, the “Open” sign on the door is proof the brothers’ business approach has proven true.
Carol’s Pastry Shop is located at 1991 Lincoln Street Salt Lake City, UT 84105 801 484-3442
Opened Tuesday through Saturday 6 am through 5 pm