Stainless steel flour sifters, shown Feb. 18, 2024, are among the many items being auctioned from Sykora Bakery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The final kolaches were baked months ago, as bread pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls and more from Sykora Bakery’s long history in Czech Village are auctioned online.

Developer Kory Nanke, who purchased the historic Sykora building for $290,000 in December, said he was unsure what business might open in the building, but the online auction was a step in clearing it out “so we can see what the space looks like with nothing in it.”

Nanke said the space will likely be leased, but he was doubtful it would open again as a bakery.

The iconic building, at 73 16th Ave. SW, has served as a bakery in Czech Village for more than a century, selling rye bread, kolaches and other Czech pastries for generations. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Previous owners, John and Sue Rocarek, decided to keep the Sykora Bakery name and recipes, they said, and were unsure what, if anything, might be done with them.

Nanke, who lives in Florida, has long been involved in Cedar Rapids bars and restaurants, including the Tic Toc, NewBo Alehouse, ‘Migos Fajitas & Margaritas, Sacred Cow Tavern and numerous others, some of which have been sold over time to employees, he said.

The Rocareks had planned to sell the business last year to Craig McCormick, who temporarily reopened the bakery in September 2023, after it closed in late July, but they decided to sell the building, rather than lease it out.

Related: Sykora Bakery reopens in Czech Village

Originally a saloon called the Dew Drop Inn, the building was constructed in 1900. The large limestone steps in front of the main doorway cover a onetime open stairway that led to a basement barbershop, where haircuts cost a quarter.

Charles and Anna Kosek opened the first Czech bakery in the building in 1903. Joseph Sykora, who worked for the Koseks, bought the business in 1927.

Sykora and his wife, Clara, owned and operated Sykora Bakery for nearly 40 years, and lived above the bakery. The couple had four children: Ernest, Elsie, Lumir and Lester, with the latter three following in their parents’ footsteps.

Elsie worked the front, while Lumir and Lester, who assumed ownership after their parents died, baked in the back. Lumir died in 1969, and Lester continued operating the bakery until just weeks before his death in 1994. Elsie died in 1993.

Don and Sheila Janda then operated Sykora Bakery before the Rocareks purchased the business in 2001.

The Kosek Bakery is shown in a reprint from its early years.

“The last thing I wanted to do was buy a bakery,” said John Rocarek, who had worked in the banking industry, but saw a need to keep the Sykora tradition alive. “It’s a labor of love.”

An oven front from a 1920’s Hubbard Oven, which had been in use until the record 2008 flood, is among items in the auction, being conducted by Backes Auctioneers.

Nanke said he was considering removing it from the auction, after several people had talked to him about its historical significance.

The auction ends Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

Related: See photos of Houby Days in Czech Village and more photos from the auction, below: