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The Scarlet & Black

Rockwells Bid Farewell to Yumi’s

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Yumi's - Matt Huck
Yumi’s Bakery and Deli will temporarily be closing as of Saturday, Jan. 25.

Remember Yumi’s Bakery & Deli in town? If you haven’t had the chance to try one of their famous pecan rolls, you may want to hurry. Heidi and Sam Rockwell, founders and owners of Yumi’s (pronounced “yummy’s”), are selling their business after a six-year run in Grinnell—the bakery will close temporarily starting Saturday, Jan. 25.

However, don’t fret just yet: the bakery will still be in town, but under different ownership. The Rockwells are currently in the process of selling the bakery to a few fellow Grinnell residents.

“I’m hoping that we can sell the bakery and they’ll continue on, with the same name and recipes,” said co-owner Sam Rockwell. “We priced it right because we wanted it to stay in town. Yumi’s will continue, just without us.”

Over the last year, Yumi’s has undergone many changes. Just last February, it relocated to a larger storefront on Broad Street. In early October, the bakery extended its hours until 10 p.m. in hopes of attracting more college students. However, the change did not result in the anticipated influx of student customers.

“We had a few college students, but not a lot,” Sam Rockwell said. “I’m not sure what the reason for that is. Maybe it was the timing.”

Amidst these changes, the husband and wife duo had been discussing selling their business.

The Rockwells started up Yumi’s in March 2008, and it has since been family-run—its original employees were the couple and their three children. Over the years, however, their children have grown up and moved away to focus on their respective careers and families.

“My middle daughter had twins in August, and we knew she just wouldn’t be able to come back to work … It was really a combination of things that made us feel this was probably the best time for us to do it,” Sam Rockwell explained, adding that their decision was not at all financially related. “The decision was because of timing, because of some things we wanted to do. We’ve been doing this for long enough that the money was never a part of [our decision].”

This new start in their lives will allow the Rockwells to forego the responsibilities of managing a small business and pursue other interests. Heidi Rockwell, cake designer and head baker of Yumi’s, also works as a travel nurse, so the couple plans to spend time traveling after they close the bakery. More importantly, they will be able to spend more time with family. According to Sam Rockwell, busy Saturdays have taken a toll on family pastimes.

“We’ve missed out on barbeques and we’ve missed out on birthday parties,” he said. “And that’s the way it is: when you have a small business, you’re married to it.”

The Grinnell community reacted to the news of Yumi’s closing with an outpour of responses after the couple announced their decision on Facebook. According to Sam Rockwell, “The difficult part about closing a business that you’ve had for so many years is the customer base: the customers that have become your friends and the customers that you’ve seen on a daily basis.”

As the Rockwells prepare for their departure, they offer a final word of advice for Grinnell College students: take an opportunity to support small town businesses.

“The small businesses in town really need their support. A lot more than maybe they realize,” Sam Rockwell said.

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