Chocolate Thumbprint Cookie
George's Bakery, $1
A disc of buttery shortbread and a dollop of fudgy icing: sweet, simple, and satisfying out of all proportion to its size. The same could be said for just about anything from George's Bakery.
Founder George Marcis was born in Greece in 1933 and immigrated to the US as a teenager; he learned English while studying at Seattle's Broadway Technical School. In 1964 Macris and his wife Jean opened their bakery on the main street in North Bend, a small mountain town in the Olympic mountains east of Seattle.
Until the 1978 bypass, Interstate 90 ran past the front door, delivering hungry skiers and hikers to and from the mountains. Macris' work day started at 3am, and one North Bend resident described seeing him work "like a buzzard" to keep his cases stocked with fresh baked goods: cracked wheat, cinnamon nut, and rye bread, danishes, doughnuts, cinnamon twists, peaked "Mount Si" loaves, and boozy rum balls. When there weren't enough chairs to go around, patrons would happily sit on the floor with their pastries and coffee.
The Macrises commuted into Seattle to attend the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, and George's Bakery played an active role in producing goods for the annual fundraiser bazaars; in the days before an event, the bakery would host a revolving army of volunteer bakers, trying their best to meet the public's lucrative demand for specialty breads and pastries.
Macris retired in 1993, selling the business to Greg and Cornelia Cordova. In 2008 the business passed to current owners Kathleen Stokesbury and Joe McKeown, a third-generation baker from Pittsburgh who had previously run Seattle's Greenwood Bakery. By all accounts, they've done little to change the formula that made George's Bakery a neighborhood hub: the decor is still comfortably kitschy, the cases are still filled with familiar favorites.
Macris passed away in 2008 at the age of 70; North Bend's mayor honored him with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his unwavering support for community members and events.
Other North Bend sources of notable sweets include Twedes's (below left), home of the "damn fine" cherry pie immortalized in David Lynch's Twin Peaks, and Scott's Dairy Freeze (below right), home of some damn sweet signage.