Joe's Bakery, hailed for years as a late-night haven for Kansas University students on study breaks, did not open for business Friday morning amid dwindling sales, an expiring lease and a landlord looking for a new operator.
When or whether the shop, at 616 W. Ninth St., will reopen again remains unclear.
"It's closed right now," co-owner Rebecca Hall confirmed Friday morning, after the bakery remained dark following its scheduled 6 a.m. opening. "That's all I can say right now."
Earlier in the week, Hall said that she and her husband, Ron, had no plans to close the business - only that the bakery would be cutting back hours to account for lower-than-expected sales. The bakery would be closing at 2 p.m. weekdays instead of the usual 2 a.m., she said, with a possibility for remaining open late Saturday nights when KU plays home football games.
The decision to reduce hours came after an anticipated boost in demand for hot-glazed doughnuts, cookies and other familiar products - a demand thought to come from the beginning of KU's fall classes - never materialized.
"It wasn't prosperous," Rebecca Hall said earlier this week, of afternoon and evening operations. "You only make $40 in an eight-hour period ... you go bankrupt quick doing that."
On Friday, she said she would not discuss the bakery's situation until after she had a chance to confer with legal counsel.
The Halls' lease expires at the end of this month, and their landlord, Ralph Smith - son of Joe Smith, who founded the bakery in 1952 - said that the Halls would not be staying at the location. They also won't be able to use the Joe's Bakery name, for which Smith says he retains the trademark.
Smith said that he was preparing to find another operator, possibly by auctioning "whole package" off, likely by the end of the year.
"I'm sure not going back into that business," said Smith, who ran the place for 23 years. "I'd love somebody to get in there and take a good swing at it."
Earlier this week, Rebecca Hall said that she and her husband had been exploring possibilities for relocating elsewhere, such as Massachusetts Street or another high-traffic location.
Earlier this year the Halls opened a Joe's Bakery in downtown Topeka. Calls to that location Friday went unanswered.