Since 1903 the bakery has provided authentic Czech products for Cedar Rapids’ vibrant Czech community and its neighbors. In 2001 John and Sue Rocarek bought the business and was determined to keep the same core values as had always been there. The devastating floods of 2008 made international news as Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas were hit with a 31 foot flood crest—including 8.5 feet inside the building! The Rocareks and 332 volunteers worked tirelessly for over 2,500 hours to restore the bakery to its glory days. Wanting to keep the premises historically authentic the damaged bakery equipment was replaced, to include a 1947 vintage oven, mixer and other items that were located and sent from around the world.
Sykora Bakery is a valued landmark in Eastern Iowa. In addition to being one of the last family-owned bakeries to offer Czech delicacies such as kolache and houska, a full Czech, Moravian and Slovak restaurant menu has been added. Sykora’s Bakery encourages customers to connect with Czech culture in nearly every aspect as the walls and shelves are full of memorabilia. As a high school history teacher I have seen firsthand Mr. Rocarek host school field trips to help the youth discover the unique role Czech immigrants had in shaping their community. Furthermore, the bakery integrates Czech traditions and customs into family-friendly activities such as the annual Cabbage Roll Relay Race and Švejkfest.
Sadly, the future of this local treasure is uncertain. Despite the potential for a flood wall, the flood insurance premium which is $4,723 (2019), is set to go up 25% annually for the next four years rising to $9,400 (2022). The Rocareks are forced to refinance the mortgage and options are running out. However, we believe that just as the bakery has survived World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the 2008 Flood—SYKORA BAKERY CAN SURVIVE WITH HELP FROM ITS COMMUNITY!
Long Term Solution
Increased emphasis on Czech ethnic history & culture:
-Convert bakery into a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Educational Organization
-Historically restore upstairs into a 1940s era Airbnb (plumbing, wiring, HVAC & construction)
-Conduct Czech bakery lessons/workshops
-Expand scheduled K-12 student tours to 2,600 annually (currently 1,300 students)
- Otakar Hendrych
- Carla Steen
- Jaroslav Hlava
- Marek Morávek
- Christine Newlin
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