Wheeler’s old masonic hall is full of pastries.
By Jordan Wolfe
Linda DeGayner, owner of Handy Creek Bakery, moved her business into the hall, located at 63 Highway 101, in February 2015.
Myriad pastries, cakes, cakes-to-order, espresso and catering are all offered. Handy Creek also serves breakfast and lunch, either to enjoy in the cafe or to-go.
“We make a quiche daily. It’s very popular,” she said with a laugh, “It’s good. Sometimes I have to have a slice.” Everything that is offered at Handy Creek Bakery is something DeGayner enjoys herself, she admitted.
DeGayner has a long history with bakeries, having began her career as an assistant pastry chef in Cannon Beach at the age of 18. She has also provided her baking and pastry skills to the Manzanita Deli, Beaverton Bakery and even the Safeway bakery.
“I get a lot of secret recipes from older generations. Customers just really enjoy giving tips.”
As a small bakery, DeGayner said they are very conscious of waste.
“We have to make sure we will sell what we make. If we have bread leftover, we take it to the Food Bank.”
The bread is made on-site and is also used for sandwiches; her two most popular, both served on their homemade bread, are the French dip and Italian sandwich.
“The french dip has the works: horseradish mayonnaise, caramelized onions, nice Havarti cheese and au jus, and our Italian sandwich is just huge. During summer, nine times out of 10, these are the sandwiches we run out of.”
DeGayner said a struggle she faces is making a profit with quality ingredients.
“We are pressured to use cheaper ingredients, but we’re picky,” she said. “Like a lot of places around here, we try to get local whenever we can. We refuse to use certain flours and refuse to use anything with soy in it.
“We try to be healthy. Of course, it’s sugar, so,” she trailed off with a laugh.
Handy Creek, which opened in 2008 in Manzanita, took years to fully move into their current home.
“My husband pretty much funded the repairs,” she said. He is an electrician.
DeGayner said the kitchen needed to be relocated to the back of the cafe. It was originally in, what is now, the dining area.
“Because the thing is there’s this beautiful view,” she said, looking out the window to the Nehalem River and valley, “We always get to see the kayakers down there.”
She added the building, considered historical, was built in the 1940s with lumber from the area by a famous New York-based architect whom moved to the Pacific Northwest.
“This is a beautiful building,” DeGayner said. “The building just feels really good. It’s good to be in here. We really, really like it.”
When not in the bakery, DeGayner can be found at Manzanita Farmer’s Market. “We try to show off what kinds of cake we make. We brought a blueberry triple lemon cake that people loved. They asked for it the next week.” However, the cake was gone. Replaced by an Oregon strawberry cake with the berries both inside the cake and incorporated into the Italian buttercream she makes. And everything is made from scratch.
“Once people have our food, they want to come back and try other things. People can come in cranky, but once they eat, they leave happy,” DeGayner said with a smile. “Come in, you’ll have a better day.”
Handy Creek Bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day and closed on Thursdays and located at 63 Highway 101 North in Wheeler. For more information, call 503-368-BAKE.