Emily Buckley, editor in chief
For nearly three decades locals, Utah State University students, and even travelers passing through on their way to Bear Lake have known that a consistent bet for a yummy sandwich or a hearty loaf of bread is found at Old Grist Mill.
The bakery, which originated in 1992 by owners Curtis and Charlene Heaton at their 78 East 400 North location in Logan, now has two additional Cache Valley restaurants: one at 981 South Main Street and a new location at 10 South Main in Smithfield.
“Very few remember the days when bread was made naturally,” the Old Grist Mill website states. “When the wheat was ground into fresh flour and the recipes were simple and contained only necessary ingredients. Here at Old Grist Mill we have brought back the natural art of making bread.”
Originally known for their bread alone, they’ve added cookies, muffins, bagels, sandwiches, and scones to their menu over the years. “A lot of the things we’ve added have been customer or employee suggestions,” ValDee Christsensen, part-owner and manager of Old Grist Mill said. “Sometimes when Curtis or I travel we will see something that we want to try and start testing recipes.”
ValDee says the best thing about the Old Grist Mill sandwich is that you can eat them every day. “Our focus is on offering clean, healthy food for a good value,” ValDee said. “It sounds cliché, but that is really what we do … it is our niche. It can get expensive to go out to eat, but we’ve been really conscious about keeping our prices affordable; it’s important to us.”
A day at Old Grist Mill begins at 3 a.m. when the first bakers arrive to start baking bread. More bakers arrive by 4:30 a.m. to prepare bagels before the rest of the crew shows up at 6 a.m. to make cinnamon rolls and cookies. “We finish baking by 10 or 11 a.m., and then we get ready for lunch and spend the rest of the day waiting on customers,” ValDee said. They bake and sell 400-500 loaves of bread every day.
ValDee says they have many customers who they see nearly every day. “We are kind of like the bakery ‘Cheers,’” he said, referring to the NBC TV show that ran from 1982 to 1993 depicting a Boston bar that welcomed familiar faces day after day. “We have the regulars who come in every day, and we are always glad to see them.”
When things slowed down during the pandemic, ValDee said they were grateful for local support. “Companies like Schrieber Foods and Lower Foods were buying 200-300 loaves of bread a day to give to their employees,” he said. “They were both helping their employees and supporting us at the same time. It was pretty neat to see.”
Now that things are easing into a new normal, ValDee says they are seeing many families picking up picnic lunches on their way up the canyon. “They won’t go stale before you get there — everything is fresh,” he said.