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Amanda Johnson started Our Town Bakery in Hillsboro, N.D., after her husband accepted a call to lead a Lutheran congregation there. Forum News Service photo

Bakery owner fills need in Hillsboro

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- Amanda, a California native, and her husband, the Rev. Joe Johnson, moved to Hillsboro in 2011 after he was called to serve as senior pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.

The couple met in Nashville, Tenn., where both were living to pursue music. After a whirlwind courtship, they moved to Minnesota, where he attended seminary and she, culinary school.

When the Johnsons interviewed with the church in Hillsboro, residents said the community needed a bakery and coffeehouse.

"There was a need in my heart. There was a need in the town. It was really fulfilling to be able to fulfill that need," Amanda Johnson said. "I always wanted to have a shop like this."

The shop is a bakery and café with a general store feeling.

"In a small town, you can't be one thing," Johnson said.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, it serves breakfast and features daily lunch specials, including Amanda Johnson's grandmother's pasties, or meat pies.

"People love our tarts. I'm told we have amazing pie crusts," she said.

Her caramel rolls and cake doughnuts are also popular.

Every couple of months, the bakery hosts a coffeehouse concert. For performers, Johnson has tapped the roster from the town's community days' talent show, and performed with Joe.

Our Town Bakery is in a downtown building saved from demolition by a community partnership that raised funds and fixed its roof.

The Johnsons purchased the building and went to work, scraping the ceiling and sandblasting the brick walls.

It's filled with eclectic décor, much of it reclaimed. A found ladder is used for display. Salvaged wood was used as legs for a rustic table. Historic and contemporary black-and-white photos of community members and buildings adorn one brick wall.

"When people have company in town, this is the place they show off. I feel so proud of that," Amanda Johnson said. "I think the town more than anything has made a mark on us. We named it Our Town Bakery because it's for the town."

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