The MacKenzies of Kalamazoo are third-generation bakers. We trace our origins to the 1920’s, when our grandparents, Henry Woods “Cap” and Nona MacKenzie lived on a farm on M-140 between South Haven and Covert. Grandpa built a roadside stand from which they sold farm produce. Grandma began making bread, potato fried cakes, sweet rolls and pies. We still have her original recipe for the fried cakes. Later they were joined by Nona’s sister, Blanche Rosenberger. Everyone knows everyone in a small town, and it wasn’t long before she became “Auntie Blanche” to the community.
She brought with her a lot of experience in the catering and baking business, mostly in Chicago. One of her earliest efforts occurred in Kalamazoo. In 1922 Auntie Blanche opened The Little Home Bakery at 1004 S. Burdick. She enrolled her 8-year-old nephew, Gerald, as a helper. He and his brother, Jim, used a little red wagon to deliver baked goods to shut-in customers. In 1938, Nona, Cap and Blanche opened a bakery in South Haven. Gerald (our father) helped on and off. After college and service in WW II, he pursued other business interests. Then, in 1954 he started to buy into the business, and worked there full-time. As Gerald’s children grew, they, too, began gaining bakery experience. John and Mary studied production; Janet worked in sales.
After completing college, John and Mary decided to start a bakery of their own. So a joint venture of Gerald and his children began in 1980. This first Kalamazoo business, located at 4606 W. Main, was modeled after the original family vision: use fresh, high quality ingredients, bake from scratch (no mixes or dough conditioners), offer a complete line of baked foods and, wherever possible, accommodate special customer requests. While John and Mary handled the day-to-day production, Gerald worked on developing new products (like Honey Grain Bread) and offering the benefit of his years of experience. In 1988, John and Mary added a store in Portage, at 6225 S. Westnedge, now located at 7083 S.Westnedge. Then, in 1998, they opened MacKenzies’ Bread Bakery, at the corner of Ransom & Harrison, just northeast of downtown Kalamazoo.