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Spend an afternoon on the corner of Commercial and W. 3rd Street and longtime Cedar Valley locals will tell you that, for years, there’s been one thing missing from downtown Waterloo.

A Waterloo school teacher, Bill Dawson, remembers the sense that used to fill the void: “When you (would) go by here, it would just smell so good … You just wanted to come in here and see what they were making that night just to see if you could eat it. It permeated the air so much.”

A downtown business owner, Jessica Young, recalls the odor floating under the cracks of her doors and filling the air of her bicycle shop: “We could smell the cinnamon raisin bread. Oh my gosh, it smelled so good.”

The local councilman for the ward, Pat Morrissey, said he sometimes tries to conjure it back through his memories: “The smell of Wonder Bread being made there … that’s one of those nostalgic memories.”

Sitting on the block between W. 2nd and W. 3rd Street since 1927, the building known fondly as a longtime Wonder Bread production facility is again producing head-turning smells, its first time doing so since doors to the plant closed in 2012. Only now, the yeast and water are creating a different aroma: craft beer courtesy of Cedar Falls-born SingleSpeed Brewing Co.

Part of an expansion from the nanobrewery’s 1,700 square-foot facility in Cedar Falls to the roughly 30,000 square-foot Wonder Bread building, SingleSpeed owner Dave Morgan purchased the building from the city of Waterloo for $1 in 2015 with plans of registering it on the National Register of Historic Places while transforming the then-distraught facility into an open, welcoming beer and dining hall.

The project cost roughly $6.5 million and took place across 2016 and early 2017. Morgan's staff expanded from eight to 103 when adding a second location, opening doors in April and fulfilling the promise of returning smells to Waterloo.

“(This building’s) just a fabric of downtown Waterloo,” said Morgan, a 42-year-old Iowa native and University of Northern Iowa graduate. “People are attached to this building for what it was and what it stood for.”


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