SMITHFIELD – Curtis Heaton said he would rather be out on a ranch pushing cows than baking bread, but life took him in a different direction. He and his wife Charlene opened the first Old Grist Mill Bread Company store in July of 1992. It is still located at 78 E. 400 N. in Logan, Utah. They started their second store in Ogden a couple of years later. Today they are working on their fifth location, in Smithfield at 10 South Main.
“I’ve had several people bugging me to open a store in Smithfield,” he said. “When the 7-11 building became available, I went a for it.”
Old Grist Mill Bread was the first specialty bread store introduced in Cache Valley.
“In the beginning, we started just baking bread and cookies, then we expanded our business to include bagels, sandwiches, soups and ice cream.
“I didn’t know much about commercially baking bread in the beginning,” he said. “I hired a consultant and went from there.”
After seeing the potential of their store in Logan, Heaton opened a second location in Ogden in the mid ‘90’s. They opened the South Logan store next.
Twenty years ago, he partnered up with ValDee Christensen and the business grew into commercial baking for area pizza places and other restaurants. Some of the area grocery stores even started carrying Old Grist Mill Bread.
Heaton has quite a diverse background for a bakery owner, including working on a cattle ranch in the west Box Elder County town of Stanrod. There are no paved roads in the Idaho border town near the Raft River Mountains. It is an agriculture dominated area.
After serving as a missionary, he went to Provo and Salt Lake to attend college and worked for the railroad for a few years before beginning his career baking bread.
He said the Smithfield operation will be different from his other stores, it will be most like the South Ogden store. But this one will have a drive-thru window.
“The drive-through will be something new,” he said. “People can get drinks, weekly specials, coffee and stuff like that through the window.”
There is a franchise of the bread company in Kaysville with a different owner. Heaton partners with his daughter in the Ogden and Brigham City stores. The business is a source of employment for college students during the school year.
Heaton said the name comes from the way they ground wheat in the old days, using stone grinding wheels called gristmills.
“I think one of the reasons we are successful, is that our product is reasonably priced, it’s healthy and a good product,” he said. “We buy our meats locally from Lower’s in Richmond.”
He said when you start something like Old Grist Mill it’s hard to quit. If he had his way, he would be on a ranch.
“I restored a red brick house in Stanrod,” Heaton said. “I like to go there when I can get away.”
The Heaton’s are grateful for the support of their faithful clientele. “Logan is the great place we call home,” he said.