It’s a Dutch bakery with a difficult-to-pronounce name: Boonzaaijer’s.
So difficult, in fact, that the owner, Stephen Boonzaaijer, printed the pronunciation on his business cards: Boné-zi-yer’s.
Boonzaaijer got his start in the bakery by following five generations of tradition.
“It’s a generational thing,” he said. “I’m the fifth-generation baker in the family. I grew up in it.”
Boonzaaijer’s family comes from the Netherlands. His father immigrated to Kalamazoo, Mich., where he started his own bakery, also called Boonzaaijer’s Dutch Bakery, now operated by Boonzaaijer’s brother-in-law. Bakeries from the previous three generations were in the Netherlands.
Boonzaaijer was in his 20s when he moved to Colorado Springs and began working in the hospitality industry.
“I decided to get in to the business and thought to do my training in the Netherlands as well,” Boonzaaijer said. He joined a bakery guild and trained at six different pastry shops in the Netherlands. He did not work at his grandfather’s bakery there, but in the bakery operated by his mother’s brother.
“My grandfather and my uncle were breadmakers,” Boonzaaijer said. “My mom’s brother was definitely more into the finer pastry side.”
With his training completed, he returned to Colorado Springs and began working at The Broadmoor.
“The hospitality business is not so family-friendly, because you’ll be working nights and weekends and holidays,” he said.
After The Broadmoor, Boonzaaijer worked for Cunningham’s Deli. When that business decided to close, Boonzaaijer took the next step, which he said was “fairly simple,” to open his own bakery.
“I put up a new storefront and kept operating under my own name,” he said. He was 29. As to his youth, “you can fail more easily when you’re young,” Boonzaaijer said. “You have the rest of your life to recover.”
His first bakery was located on Centennial Boulevard. Needing more room, and wanting to be closer to his customer base, Boonzaaijer moved to his current location.
“Our other expansion option was to put a satellite store on the east side, but that comes with other logistical challenges as well, and we thought it would be better for the business and for sanity’s sake to operate under one location,” Boonzaaijer said.
Since moving, Boonzaaijer said he’s received complaints from some customers at his previous location. Also, he lives close to his previous location, “so that was really nice back in the time I could walk to work.”
Boonzaaijer’s Dutch Bakery specializes in pastries. That fact is evident immediately upon entering the store, where delightful aromas dance with visitors’ olfactory glands.
At particularly busy times, the customers must take a number and patiently wait while mulling over which delicacy to nosh upon.
“As you can see, we focus primarily on sweet goods, breakfast pastries,” and more, Boonzaaijer said.
The bakery also sells Danishes, cinnamon rolls, scones, cakes, muffins, éclairs, double Belgian mousse, Napoleons, cream puffs, Black Forest pastries, apple tortes, tea cookies, petit fours, pies and wedding cakes.
There are Dutch imports including bulk licorice, including katjes, kokindjes and zoute schuinen, in addition to speculaas, honig soep mix (Dutch soup mixes), pancake mixes and more. It offers gluten-free selections as well.
The store sells wholesale to some establishments, but its main focus is retail. It also has a full coffee bar.
When asked what is Boonzaaijer’s favorite thing to make, he responds, “There’s something about artisan breads. … I just really enjoy that process because artisan breads take several days to develop the starters and the doughs.
“To have it come out and bake like it’s supposed to, it’s really nice, rewarding.” Breads are also his favorite to eat, the sourdough particularly, he said.
“From the pastries, I would pick the double Belgian mousse,” Boonzaaijer said. “I love chocolate, chocolate cake, dark chocolate mousse and milk chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache.”
Because the business moved to its new location in August last year, final sales figures are not yet tallied to compare the two locations.
“Business has increased. We have a lot more walk-in retail,” Boonzaaijer said. “There’s more of that here than our other location,” which offered more predictable walk-in traffic.
Business fluctuates each month and season. Initially, there was tremendous interest at the new location, then it dropped off to a steady stream of customers, he said.
Boonzaaijer shrugged his shoulders when asked if his children will be sixth-generation bakers.
His children enjoy the bakery “in the form of entertainment, at their ages,” Boonzaaijer said. “They like to come to the shop and make little pies and cookies. I wouldn’t ask them to take any long-term interest in it” unless they were of a more advanced age.
Boonzaaijer’s Dutch Bakery
Info: 610 E. Fillmore St., 264-0177