At 2:30 in the morning, Fish Creek is a quiet place. Highway 42 is empty of traffic; the sky above Peninsula State Park is bright with stars; and there’s barely a ripple out on the bay.
But on the north side of town, the lights are on in the kitchen of Fika Bakery & Coffeehouse, and the day is already in full swing as one batch after another comes out of the ovens. Muffins. Sticky buns. Toaster tarts. Turnovers. Everything is baked fresh here daily, and it’s always an early morning.
“When you do cinnamon rolls and things like that from scratch, it doesn’t matter how slow or busy you are, you still have to get here at the same time,” David Linstrom said with a laugh one morning after he had stocked Fika’s glass bakery cases.
This busy little kite-shop-turned-bakery has been around for five years, but it’s a dream that’s been baking for decades.
The owners, David and Heather Linstrom, fell in love with Door County during their first visit in 1990, when the young couple was living in a Chicago suburb and honeymooned in Baileys Harbor, staying in a friend’s cabin.
“We were here three days, and we fell in love with Door County,” Heather said.
Decades of culinary experience preceded opening the bakery. David was a culinary instructor in Chicago; they once owned a Swedish restaurant and banquet facility; they ran a large, successful, high-end catering company; and they even catered an event for a presidential visit.
Heather became a successful radio broadcaster, and they relocated to Fond du Lac. As they raised a family, they visited Door County as often as they could.
“Door County becomes part of you when you come up here,” Heather said. “Everybody who enjoys Door County, they feel that Door County is their own private place – that’s the charm of the county.”
After raising their children – William, Victoria and James – and working for years in catering, the Linstroms sought a new adventure.
“We always dreamed of living here,” Heather said. “We would drive down [Highway] A or down E and say, ‘Someday we will retire here.’”
Then one day, Heather discovered that the kite shop on Highway 42 was for rent, but David was skeptical.
“That’s way too small. We could never do anything in that space,” he recalled thinking.
But when the couple visited the shop and saw how much room there was with all the kites gone, they realized it was perfect for a business. After some renovations, they opened.
Since then, the bakery has been a big success. On busy summer weekends, there is often a line out the door. Working alone, David turns out dozens of different offerings – at any one time, there might be 30 options in the shop’s bakery cases.
“We have some really popular items that customers come in droves for,” Heather said. “We have our ‘fabulous four,’ which are giant cinnamon rolls, giant cardamom rolls, giant cherry rolls and giant pecan sticky buns.”
Another popular offering is the bakery’s Ole Roll.
“They are a croissant pastry, which has fillings with everything from ham and cheese to Swedish meatballs,” she said.
The bakery is open seasonally, from April until the end of October. The summers are intense – there are some days when David does little more than bake and sleep – but life slows down in the fall.
The couple wondered whether they would lose their love for Door County once they actually called it home, but it hasn’t happened yet.
“We make that drive up Door County every day a thousand times, and it never feels the same,” Heather said. “On a day off, we’ll drive up the Door and say, ‘Isn’t that beautiful? Look at that there – aren’t those trees beautiful?’ It sounds corny, but it’s true: It never gets old.”
And to the delight of Heather and David Linstrom, Fika has become a special part of their customers’ Door County experience.
David and Julie Ewert from Mankato, Minnesota, travel to Door County about once a year, and they make a point of stopping at Fika at least once during their visit.
“It’s a very good bakery, and their breakfast is wonderful,” David said.
“The owners are wonderful, too,” Julie added.
Those types of comments are why the hard work is all worth it for David and Heather Linstrom.
“We have had experiences like that with our own history [of vacationing] here,” Heather said. “There are places we visited every single time. Now others are making Fika Bakery & Coffeehouse part of their tradition. It’s really amazing.”