Neighborhood baker raises sights for troubled youth

Not only does he create the finest pies, cakes and pastries, read this story about a baker who teaches his craft to at-risk young people‚

“Jack the Baker” creates delicious delights in small quantities, using the highest quality ingredients.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Folks in southeast Portland don’t have to travel far to find a good — no, great — “made-from-scratch” bakery.

After enjoying his breads and pastries for years, we decided to meet the man “in the dough” who runs His Bakery on SE 72nd Ave., just south of Woodstock.

“The best part about being a baker,” says Richard “Jack” Robeson III with a open smile, “is being able to eat the leftovers. Actually, I take pleasure in making things people enjoy. I really like seeing the smile on their faces when they eat something that I’ve baked.”

The small storefront belies the modern preparation facility‚ and commercial oven‚ hidden away, deep in the store.

Jack and his family keep busy. We talk as he pulls out trays of his “Original Good & Ugly” cookie. It’s made of roasted seeds, flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame, with no refined sugar. Some varieties also have chocolate chips or cranberries and apricots baked in them.

Recipe for troubled youth
Jack, a father of three, says he’s been in business for 12 years. He learned the baking trade at Clark College, and worked at Elephant’s Delicatessen and Broadway Bakery.

“We started the business to provide products of value,” Jack tells us as he mixes a batch of dough.

“But more importantly,” he says sincerely, “during the summer, we bring in junior high school kids‚ some of whom who are having trouble in school or at home. They spend the summer with us, and I each them the trade.”

He pauses while he washes batter off his hands, then adds, “I’m a baker to earn my living, but helping young people is a mission. I get to share my love of baking.”

Pies of renown
Long-time customers might say Jack is most famous for his “home made” pies. “There aren’t a lot of bakeries in Portland that make a good, ‘home made’ pie like we do,” Jack beams. “Our cakes are becoming very popular, as are our cinnamon rolls, Marionberry muffins, and oat bran cookies.”

Jack apologizes for not at that moment having his best-in-Portland, custard-filled chocolate-topped eclairs in stock. “I know they’re your favorite,” he says.

When you see this building‚ you’re at His Bakery!

His Bakery, 6011 SE 72nd Ave., is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tues through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays. They’re closed Sunday and Monday.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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