Advertisement

‘I wanted to say goodbye.’ Customers crowd in for last day of business at Magee’s Bakery

Hundreds of customers gathered Saturday to say farewell and get one last sweet taste of Magee’s Bakery.

Beverly Higgins, who co-owns the Lexington bakery, said Saturday would be the bakery’s last day after 67 years in business.

The line of patrons stretched from the cash register inside all along the 700 block of Main Street and around the corner at South Ashland Avenue. Higgins walked down the line outside, handing out doughnut stickers and giving hugs to familiar faces.

“Thank you so much for supporting us,” she told them.

Co-owner Beverly Higgins hugs patrons that gathered around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Co-owner Beverly Higgins hugs patrons that gathered around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.

Mary Christian left with a bag of baking pans and a box of danishes.

“I wanted to say goodbye,” she said. “Magee’s has been a big part of this community for 67 years. ...They’re the best bakery I’ve ever been to, and that’s saying a lot.”

Magee’s had been in business since 1956. Higgins ran the front side of the operation, and her brother, Greg Higgins, was in charge of the baking. She said he came in late Friday afternoon and baked all night to prepare the final baked goods for Saturday morning.

Beverly Higgins said the bakery struggled during the pandemic and has had trouble with having enough employees. She said the last straw came when she pulled into the parking lot one morning recently and found that the two people who were supposed to be baking hadn’t shown up and didn’t let anyone know.

“This year has been exceptionally tough,” she said.

Several customers said they waited more than three and a half hours to buy one last box of pastries or to take home a more lasting memento. Cake pans and muffin tins were being sold for $3 each. Long wooden tables, tops faded from years of wear, were for sale too.

Patrons gather and line up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Patrons gather and line up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.

Becca Kelly Martin said the bakery had been a part of her family’s history “for birthdays and wedding celebrations. Magee’s kind of brought us all together.”

“I came for danishes and chocolate donuts, and they were out,” she said Saturday morning.

But she was glad to take home a box containing croissants, apple danish and cinnamon sugar doughnuts.

Originally, the owners had planned to open Saturday and Sunday, but Beverly Higgins said they would not be opening Sunday. She said she thought the bakery might run out of baked goods before all the customers who were there Saturday had been served.

Clay Goodman said he “grew up on it” and was “paying my respects, regardless of if I get anything or not.”

Employees box up baked goods for patrons who lined up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Employees box up baked goods for patrons who lined up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.

Jessica Morris, who was in line next to Goodman, remembered how Beverly and Greg Higgins’ mother, Joyce Higgins, and another longtime employee used to give her daughter “extras” when she was little. They were still doing that when her daughter was a medical school student.

“I used to bring my children here all the time for after school treats,” she said.

Joyce and Ralph Higgins bought the bakery in the late 1960s from founder Leslie Magee, who also had bakeries in Frankfort and Maysville.

Their specialty was baked goods made from scratch using recipes passed down for decades: transparent pies, rolls, flaky croissants, doughnuts with rich chocolate fudge icing.

Employees box up baked goods for patrons who lined up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Employees box up baked goods for patrons who lined up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.

“The love that Lexington has shown just today has been huge,” Beverly Higgins said. “It’s the end to a big chapter in my life.”

One of Lexington’s most popular bakeries is closing this weekend. How did it happen?

Patrons gather and line up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Patrons gather and line up around the corner of South Ashland and Main Street to try and purchase something on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours.
Photos, tables, chairs and baking sheets are sold to patrons on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours to try and purchase baked goods or items.
Photos, tables, chairs and baking sheets are sold to patrons on the last day of business for Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 13, 2023. Some people waited in line over two hours to try and purchase baked goods or items.