Our Daily Bread Bakeshop and Bistro
core group now operating Our Daily Bread Bake
Shoppe and Bistro on North Center Street in
Barnes includes The Ladies…Norma Drebes-Megenity
and her daughters Cindy Hiesterman, Connie Wilkens,
Marilyn Link, and “adopted daughters”
Kim Helms and Yvonne Murrow as well as Connie’s
daughter, Adena, and Cindy’s daughter,
Kate. The day-to-day male input comes from Cindy’s
husband, Ernie, and Connie’s son, Christopher,
and Norma’s husband, Sweeney.
main ingredient is family.
“Our family has always been hospitable,”
says Cindy Hiesterman, business co-founder. “Mom
always had a saying that whoever put their hand
in the cookie jar was family, and we try to carry
that philosophy into our business.”
original seven that began the business refer to
themselves as the “five loaves” and
“two fish” based on what Jesus used
to miraculously feed 5000 at the Sermon on the Mount.
The “five loaves” include a mother,
Norma Drebes-Megenity, and her four daughters and
“two fish” include a husband and son.
Nearly all of the original founders are still involved
in the business in Barnes, a Washington County community
of approximately 150 located north of Manhattan.
The business, which now offers a retail bakery,
online store, daily lunch, and monthly dinner events,
started as a retail bakery-only operation in Norma
Hiesterman’s two-car garage in December 2002.
| Decorated holiday cookies are just one of
the many products Our Daily Bread offers at
their bakery or online through The Gourmet Food
youngest sister actually wanted to have a bakery
in her home,” says Connie Wilkens, co-founder.
“Cindy and I went with her to a sale to get
some equipment and when we got home mom just said
to unload everything in her garage temporarily.
That’s where the bakery actually began.”
With hard work and the addition of Internet sales,
the business grew quickly and it became necessary
to move into its current location on North Center
Street. They now draw lunch crowds from many surrounding
“The majority of the traffic in our shop comes
from Manhattan, Topeka, Junction City and the surrounding
areas who are looking for a different experience,”
business’ rapid growth has not been without
that happen so fast like we’ve experienced
since opening our business are stressful and challenging,
but have to happen in order for things to thrive,”
Hiesterman says. “To help ease that stress,
we have the belief that we all need to be in agreement
for us to decide anything.”
Hiesterman firmly believes that it is family that
makes the business work.
“We have our two fish and they have their
own ideas at times, but it really has become a whole
family thing,” Hiesterman says, laughing.
“The reward is seeing the family every day.”
Because they knew their somewhat remote location
in Barnes would make it difficult to draw large
crowds every day, Hiesterman says they knew they
would have to be creative.
we first started we knew there would never be enough
local customers to support a bake shop,” Hiesterman
says. “We knew we’d need internet sales
to go beyond our borders.”
first had to learn how products would best ship
for internet sales. The women worked with a company
who helped create their web site and work through
the issues of pricing, online shopping, and shipping.
They quickly learned the importance of Internet
search engines in attracting new customers.
did several searches of homemade baked items and
The Gourmet Food Mall came up the most in those
searches,” Hiesterman says. “So we contacted
them and they had to evaluate the product and packaging
before they accepted us. Now they even use us as
an example for how to ship products, but there is
no way we would have been ready for that outlet
if we hadn’t already done some of the initial
research on our own.”
marketing success has been the addition of monthly
dinner events, which began in February 2004. The
women say what began as a compromise to requests
for being open during the evening hours, has turned
into an anticipated event each month. The reservation
only events have consistently been booked solid.
A different theme is chosen each month and the menu
and decorations accommodate the season and event.
“The dinner events are always fun, but we
always say the real party is in the kitchen,”
Hiesterman says. “We put everyone to work.”
everyone means every available family member, including
husbands, sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces.
says they also employ around 10 teens part-time
to help with the dinner events. The teens are involved
with The Refuge, which is a Christian based youth
center in Barnes with which the family is heavily
lot of times we’re giving these youth their
first job ... they’ll be able to use us as
a reference.” Hiesterman says. Wilkens says another big perk are the leftovers
the teens often get at the center.
anything, the founders of the business believe their
community has something unique to offer people who
want to see the roots of rural American and hope
their experience helps other small, rural communities
see opportunity again.
rewarding that we may be serving as an inspiration
to others around us,” says Hiesterman. “We
hope we’ve been somewhat responsible for helping
small towns to dream again.”
more information on Our Daily Bread, visit www.our-dailybread.com or www.barnesks.net