Celebrating 40 Years of Cinnamon Rolls in Seattle
Grand Central Bakery’s roots stretch all the way back to 1972, when “The Godfather” was playing in movie theatres, the Watergate scandal was unfolding and the must-have home décor item was a terrarium.
Gwen Bassetti (left) introduced artisan bread to Seattle. Years earlier, she got her start baking homey sandwich loaves at a Pioneer Square cafe called The Bakery.
In a down-at-the-heels historic pocket of Seattle, three enterprising young moms opened a sandwich shop in the newly refurbished Grand Central Hotel. They called it The Bakery and served up freshly baked whole-grain cinnamon rolls, hot coffee in hand-thrown pottery mugs and wholesome sandwiches on grainy bread made from co-founder Gwen Bassetti’s home recipes. People drove from all over the region to eat at the groovy little sandwich shop in the heart of the city’s revitalized Pioneer Square district.
Fast forward nearly two decades to 1989. The Bakery’s three founders were off to new endeavors. Bassetti returned to a newly remodeled and rechristened Grand Central Bakery and introduced artisan bread to Seattle. Once again crowds lined up, this time for Como loaves baked in an Italian hearth oven, sandwiches on sturdy hearth breads and more of those cinnamon rolls. In 1992, Bassetti’s son Ben Davis opened the first Grand Central Bakery in Portland. He was joined by sister Piper and a group of close friends, who oversee the bakery’s artisan bread production and neighborhood cafes in Portland and Seattle to this day.
So cheers to the bakery’s founders, and Happy Anniversary to the little café that started something big.