CLE ELUM, Wash. — The bakers rise early so the dough can, too.
"I'll wake up about 1:15 or 1:30 AM. And be here by 2:00," says Nick Osmonovich, a baker at the Cle Elum Bakery.
It's been that way here in Central Washington for more than 100 years. The big brick oven at the bakery was first fired up in 1906. If you were to cut the gas supply, it would take days to lose its heat. And it never has. Not once in 112 years.
"It's never cooled down," says Nick's dad, Ivan Osmonovich, the bakery's owner.
Ivan keeps on cookin', too. He started working here at the age of five.
"Cookie tester," he jokes about his earliest job.
He took over the bakery when he was 20, just after his father passed away.
"We've rearranged a few things, but not much," he says.
Now Ivan, his wife Claudia and their son, Nick, run the family business together. Like clockwork.
"We call it the dance," Ivan says. "We each know what the other person's gonna do. I don't think we've ever argued, have we?" he asks Nick.
"No, we've got it pretty good," Nick responds. "Gotta see him the next day, so why stir the pot?" he laughs.
Every week, they create hundreds of perfect pies, lovely loaves and palatable pastries.
"Donuts, cookies, danish," Claudia says.
They do it using original equipment, such as bread pans that Ivan's dad worked with back in the middle of the last century.
"Oh, they're probably 70, 80 years old," Ivan says.
Half of the bakery's customers are just passing through town, making a quick pit stop off the I-90 exit. The rest never plan to leave. For both customers and owners, this place is a habit that can't be broken.
Nick says, "There's just a lot of history here."
He briefly considered breaking the chain and setting off on his own.
"It's a tough lifestyle," Nick says, "living in a small town, working odd hours."
But something keeps drawing him back.
"It's in my blood. Three generations."
It could be the pull of this special place in this little town, and the warm embrace of a very sweet family.
"You feel good," Claudia says. "Even though we're dead tired at the end of the day, it's a good feeling to know that we're making people happy."