SALEM, Ore. -- It's business as usual at Gerry Frank’s Konditorei.
Day-to-day affairs are being handled by Linae Sielicky, manager of the cake shop for nearly three decades. More than 350 cakes baked each week by Valerie and Mike Schultz's bakery are being devoured like clockwork.
But the three of them are doing it with new titles.
Sielicky and the Schultzes are the new owners of the 40-seat café. They purchased the Konditorei from Gerry Frank, who co-founded the business with the late Barney Rogers in 1982.
The transaction was finalized about two months ago with little fanfare, not long after the shop quietly marked its 35th anniversary.
Not a peep was posted on the Konditorei website or its Facebook page, and there's no sign at the café.
"Our regular customers know," Sielicky said. "We just decided we wanted to keep it private. We didn't want people to say, 'Oh, no, it's under new ownership, it's going to go downhill.' "
Frank did make a casual reference in front of a large crowd while he was judging his namesake Chocolate Layer Cake Contest at the Oregon State Fair.
“It’s no secret,” Frank said this week after returning from one of his regular trips to New York City. “It’s not going to change. Everything’s going to be the same — the same people, the same menu. I’m still going to be around.”
Frank is an Oregon political icon, having served as chief of staff to the late U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield. With his boss as chairman of Ways & Means, Frank was one of the most sought after power brokers inside the Beltway.
He's also authored best selling travel books about New York City and Oregon.
Frank's name will stay on the marquee and on the title of the restaurant. That was part of the deal.
He will continue to meet and greet customers from time to time, something he's always enjoyed and the new owners will rely on.
"He's my PR man," Sielicky said.
The Schultzes can’t imagine Frank not being a fixture of the shop.
“We want him there,” Mike Schultz said. “This is his baby, and it always has been. I like seeing him down there.”
The gourmet cake shop is a community landmark on the corner of Kearney and Commercial streets SE with its red and white awnings.
Rogers banked on Frank’s love of chocolate when he brought up the idea of them opening a Konditorei, the German word for a confectionery shop, and the business continues to serve a niche in the Salem area, soothing the sweet tooth of local residents and visitors.
The business has expanded over the years to become more than just a cake shop, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
Sielicky has been the manager of the café for 29 years. She and her husband, Chris, an attorney, have 51 percent ownership. The Schultzes own 49 percent.
Linae has been the kind of manager who works the floor, does the dishes, scrubs the windows and picks up trash in the parking lot. That won't change now that's she an owner, although she has named a successor.
Nicole Woodcock, who has worked at the Konditorei for about seven years, is the new manager.
The Schultzes have been the primary cake bakers for about 25 years. Their bakery, Lovin' Oven in Stayton, has been cranking out cakes for the Konditorei almost since Day 1, first under former owner Doreen Helmemn.
Frank became the sole owner of the Konditorei in 2012 when he bought out Rogers, Sielicky's father-in-law. She vowed at that time to keep the business in the family if and when the time came for Frank to sell.
Sielicky and the Schultzes first approached Frank two years ago as they became aware of serious out-of-town interest in purchasing the shop. They worried drastic changes could be made to a business they have invested so much of their lives in.
“We did not want to see that happen to this,” Mike Schultz said. “We’ve had a unique relationship all these years, built on trust. We went to Gerry and said if you’re ever going to sell, could you please consider us.
"He was thrilled that we would actually want to take it over. We’re carrying on the legacy that we helped start.”
“Forward This” appears Wednesdays and Sundays and highlights the people, places, and organizations of the Mid-Willamette Valley. Contact Capi Lynn at clynn@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-399-6710, or follow her the rest of the week on Twitter @CapiLynn and Facebook @CapiLynnSJ.
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