For the first time in its 57-year history, ownership of Arvada’s fabled Rheinlander Bakery will be passed on from the bakery’s founding family. Loren Naftz — who has served as Rheinlander’s …
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5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd.
For the first time in its 57-year history, ownership of Arvada’s fabled Rheinlander Bakery will be passed on from the bakery’s founding family. Loren Naftz — who has served as Rheinlander’s production manager for the last nine years — and her husband Luke will take over for Ed and Maro Dimmer, who are retiring after 34 years at the helm.
Rheinlander’s was founded by Ed’s parents Jakob and Katharina Dimmer - both immigrants from Germany — in 1963. The bakery still occupies its original building in Olde Town, which features living quarters above the storefront that were formerly occupied by the Dimmers.
The Naftz’s wrote a letter of intent to the Dimmer’s in 2019 and formally signed the ownership papers in April of that year. Loren Naftz said the transition was a slow burn that had been in the works for years and credited the close relationship between the two families for making the transition a smooth one.
“(Ed and Maro are) like family to us,” said Loren. “And that made things really easy in terms of negotiating everything in the contract. They’d been planning on retiring for five or six years. It was basically a formality at that point. We’ve known for about two and a half years that this is what was happening.”
Not wanting to risk Ed and Maro’s health in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dimmer’s began paring down their hours at Rheinlander’s and handed off most of their responsibilities to the Naftz’s in June 2020.
After considering returning to the bakery on multiple occasions, the Dimmer’s decided after the holidays that they would retire to their Glenwood Springs home permanently.
Loren Naftz said she understands the importance of taking over a decades-old family business and was honored that the Dimmer’s trusted her with their legacy.
“It definitely is very humbling to know that they trust us with their legacy,” said Loren, “because I know that they have — I mean, it’s been an Eds family since he was five, but Maro has put in a ton of effort too in the last 30-some-odd years.
“And I know that they don’t have children,” Loren continued, “this business is like their child, and it means a lot to them. So, the fact that they trust us to carry on their legacy is a lot of pressure, but also a big honor.”
The Naftz’s are working to stay true to Ed and Maro’s vision for Rheinlander’s, which prides itself on offering traditional German pastries alongside more modern offerings that follow current trends.
Rheinlander’s notably began baking gluten-free pastries in 2002 when Maro was diagnosed with celiac disease. Their gluten-free offerings now include vegan and dairy-free options as well.
The Naftz’s said they’ve perfected their gluten-free pastries to the point where they now rival their glutenous counterparts.
“Our gluten free pastries and cakes are just as good and sometimes better, I feel, as our traditional ones,” said Luke.
“Yeah, you really can’t tell,” said Loren.
The Naftz’s have also overseen a redesign of the bakery’s torte’s, an effort spearheaded by lead designer Desiree Wheeler. Rheinlander’s recently began serving a limited number of savory pastries, an effort the Naftz’s said they will continue.
For Luke Naftz, who grew up in the area, owning Rheinlander’s still feels surreal.
“I grew up actually just a couple miles away,” said Luke. “I went to high school at Pomona High School, and this was where, if you wanted a cake — if your parents didn’t make it for you — you came here to get it. When (Loren) first got her job here ten years ago, I was like, `Wow, that’s crazy.’ That’s the place, that is the Denver bakery.”
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