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The End of Prairie Thunder Baking Company

Forgive me for not posting this sooner, it's been a busy holiday weekend. But yes, the news is true - Prairie Thunder Baking Company closed its doors for good yesterday.

Here is their announcement released on their Facebook page:

"With sadness, we are closing our doors at the end of the workday, 2:00 pm this coming Saturday, November 26th. We want to sincerely thank our customers, retail and wholesale, and all our employees over the past 8-1/2 years."

So what happened?

I've not been able to talk yet with John McBryde, who opened this old-school bakery at Plaza Court, 1114 Classen Drive, in 2008. But keep in mind, this business venture did not start out as planned. McBryde was a geologist who chased the American dream of starting and owning his business. But 2008 was not an ideal time to start what was originally envisioned as a 24/7 bakery. The national economy was tanking, bank lending was frozen and an anticipated rush to add more downtown housing was delayed by a few years.

McBryde competed for commercial contracts with local restaurants. In my visits with McBryde, it was clear retaining this business in a restaurant industry that is growing in size but not customers was forcing a cutting of costs. Some customers fell off, not due to the quality of McBryde's great breads, but rather in a race to cut costs.

The other challenge McBryde faced was the hiring, training and retention of employees he trained. It's a tricky proposition. It was a lot of work. And during our more recent visits, I could tell John was getting worn down. I'd love to see someone step in, buy an interest and keep the Prairie Thunder Baking Company alive. This is a loss not just for Midtown, but for all of Oklahoma City.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›