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Fargo’s Josie’s Corner to close this weekend

FARGO -- A downtown restaurant and bakery will soon close.

Josie’s Corner Cafe & Bake Shop, 524 Broadway N., will open at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, and close for good at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon.

The shop will also be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, and Friday, Dec. 22, and the owners are inviting friends and family to stop by Friday evening for an informal gathering.

Josie’s Corner has been here since 2006, though its history stretches back years before that.

Tracy and Randy Walvatne bought what was then Cynthia’s Custom Cakes in 2003 and changed the name after original owner Cynthia Herfindahl was no longer involved.

Tracy Walvatne said 14 years is a “good run,” and the family is proud of being able to keep prices low for their baked goods, sandwiches and lunches.

She said her favorite part was getting to feed so many visiting vendors during the annual Downtown Fargo Street Fair, though she also enjoyed getting to know the regulars.

But having the shop is “like having a dairy farm,” she said, because the family has to be there just about every day.

“It’s not a tough business in a bad way,” she said. “It’s just demanding.”

That’s why the family is ready for a change, and that requires closing.

Tracy Walvatne already has a full-time job as a food sales consultant for Reinhart Foodservice. Randy Walvatne, the main “food guy” at the shop, said he’s looking forward to taking a couple months off before he figures out what he’ll do next.

Their daughter, Katie Walvatne, has worked at Josie’s since grade school, joking that she started as “slave labor.” Her brother, Simon Walvatne, often got busted taking a nap under a table in the kitchen when he was little.

Katie Walvatne is now 23, and said she’d like to enroll in college so she can pursue a career in nutrition and dietetics.

Another factor is their lease ends in January on the building that Tracy Walvatne said is owned by Enclave Development.

The business name, concept and recipes will stay with the family. There’s a chance another bakery could take over the space, and Tracy Walvatne said they’ll see if a new owner wants to buy their kitchen equipment to do so. If not, they’ll sell everything and be out by the end of January.

It’s a bittersweet time, but she said she has no regrets over the years that her family devoted to this little shop.

“We want the community to know that we really, really, really appreciate their support over all the years,” she said.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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