Baking up history in Milan

Baker on the Square is bringing big-time flavors to small-town Milan. 

The bakery, located on the square in the historic town, brings a wide selection of baked goods guaranteed to be a tasty treat. When you first walk through the doors, you are met with the fragrance of freshly baked bread and sweets, along with a cozy vibe. With its high quality products, it is a must-stop in the Milan area. The Helm was able to talk with founder and owner Rich Shafer.

Question: Why did you decide to follow your passion of baking?

Answer: For many years I worked in the corporate environment, but always wanted to do something on my own. I grew up in an entrepreneurial home, so I guess it is in my blood. Three years ago, we purchased the building on the Milan Town Square as an investment and shortly after, my wife, knowing how unhappy I was in my job, suggested we go ahead and try our hand at being small business owners.
Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed being in the kitchen baking. It is something I inherited from my grandma and my dad. It's always been a creative outlet and something I've been good at. So, when we decided to start a small business, a bakery was just a natural fit. 

A view from inside Baker on the Square.Q. Why did you pick Milan as the location for Baker on the Square?

A. I selected Milan because it's home. I grew up in Milan and in turn raised my kids in Milan. Also, the Milan Village Square has been transforming in recent years and the quaint historic setting lends the perfect environment for a local small-town bakery. 

Q. Where do you see the future of Baker on the Square going?

A. It is our plan that Baker on the Square will continue to grow. Since opening our doors on March 5th [2022], we continue to grow our menu selection and offer much more than just pastries. I would like to continue growing our wholesale partnerships and begin offering online ordering.

Q. Does the building that you are in have any historical significance?

A. The building we are in was built around 1900 and has housed many businesses over the years. In the early years, J.C. Dorr's Groceries & Notions occupied the shop. In the later years, the Milan Post Office occupied the building for many years until the current post office was built in the late 1960s. After that time, it housed a cycle shop, a woodworking shop, a flower shop and furniture repurposing shop. However, for me, the most significant was that my father opened an ice cream shop (The Ice Cream Emporium) in the mid 1970s in this same location. So as a 10-year-old kid, I was in this building washing dishes and wiping tables. Now it's come full circle and I'm back in the same location my dad had his ice cream parlor. 

Red Velvet cake at Baker on the SquareQ. What is the best thing on the menu?

A. This question is difficult as there are many top sellers in different item categories. For example, from the pastry case, our cinnamon rolls and pecan sticky buns sell great. Our fresh sourdough and honey wheat breads are amazing. It really depends on who you ask as everyone has their own favorites. Let me say... Everything is delicious, but the "Baker's Choice" items are the blueberry bagels toasted with butter, cherry strudel danish, oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookies, and the classic cheesecake.  

Baker on The Square is open most weekdays 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. For the full menu and other information, visit

Sam Didion is a youth writer studying at Sandusky High School. He plays multiple sports and is a part of numerous clubs and extracurriculars. He plans on studying Aerospace engineering in college.