Desa Acovski, owner of the Butternut Bakery with her husband Vano Acovski, shows a tray of apple fritters, a favorite among many customers.

Desa Acovski, owner of the Butternut Bakery with her husband Vano Acovski, shows a tray of apple fritters, a favorite among many customers.

Photo by Gena Johnson

Butternut Bakery closing soon as owners plan to retire

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published February 16, 2024


CENTER LINE — After nearly 50 years in business, the owners of the Butternut Bakery in Center Line are preparing to close after the Easter holiday.

Sweet, warm and inviting describes the aromas wafting through the air as customers steadily filed into the neighborhood bakery at 24906 Van Dyke. That also describes Desa Acovski, who owns the bakery with her husband, Vano Acovski, as she greets customers with a warm smile and friendly hello.

“I love them and they’re so friendly. They always have a smile. I don’t care how early you come or how late you come.  It puts sunshine on you,” said Florence Smith as she made her frequent trek to the bakery from her home in Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood.

“Good. That’s what I want to hear,” said Acovski. “If I can’t brighten it (a customer’s day), I just don’t want to ruin it.”

Smith has been coming to the bakery for more than 10 years.

“I moved here from San Jose, California and I have been coming here ever since. Nothing there compares. I was close to Vegas where they have all of the casinos with all of the baked goods. This is still the best,” Smith said.

Smith enjoys the lemon squares and pumpkin pies and pumpkin squares.

“I take them home and people think I made them. They think they are sweet potato pies,” Smith said.

Center Line resident Michael Branscum started coming to the bakery more than 20 years ago when his church would get doughnuts from the bakery.

“I like the doughnuts. They got huge doughnuts. They got the best doughnuts in the world, I think,” Branscum said.  “They don’t make them like this anywhere else, anymore.”

Dinners with his wife’s relatives is how Tom Vallone of Shelby Township started coming to the Butternut Bakery.

“My wife’s grandfather lived right down the street. He would come here and get these (Bundt) cakes. Me and my wife would go over and have dinner and he would always have one of these cakes for us,” Vallone said. “He passed at least 16 years ago. I’m here to get one of these cakes and bring them home.”

Customers like the prices.

“And you can’t beat the prices here,” Smith said.

Other customers concurred.

In less than an hour in the early afternoon on a weekday, more than 20 customers came into the bakery for their favorite pastries. Customers were surprised to hear the bakery will be closing after Easter.

“Sorry to hear that they are closing. I wish them the best, Smith said. “We need somebody else like them to occupy this spot.”

Many customers would like the bakery to stay open. However, the couple is looking forward to slowing down from the long hours and hard work.

Vano has been working in the business since 1975 and Desa since 1981.

Vano’s father, Slavko Acovski, purchased the business in 1975 while Vano was still in high school.

“They couldn’t have started it (the bakery) without him (Vano). They (Vano’s parents) didn’t know the language. They didn’t drive,” Acovski said.

Vano and Desa married in May 1981.

“After the honeymoon, in June, this has been my life,” she said. “Even though we’ve had four children, I nursed all four of them. Six months later, I was here.”

Both Vano and Desa are from Macedonia in the former Yugoslavia. They came to the United States as children with their respective parents.

They have enjoyed their business, but it has come with long hours and sacrifices. For more than a year, Desa has been the only person working the counter, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, since her sister-in-law became sick and unable to continue working at the bakery. Before this, they worked six days a week. Vano is the sole baker and comes in even earlier, according to his wife. He arrives the night before around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. to prepare for the next day. She said in previous years when the bakery was busier, he would arrive as early as 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.

“It’s been a fun ride but there have been a lot of sacrifices people don’t realize — physical, emotional, the whole nine yards,” Acovski said.

“We have had four children. Luckily, we had my in-laws at home and my mother-in-law did a great job in helping raise our kids. But I wasn’t there for them during the school years, and neither was my husband,” Acovski said about some of the sacrifices she and her husband endured.  “School functions, sports activities, whatever that entails between the four of them. We’ve sacrificed a lot not being able to do that with them.”

Acovski continued.

“That is the main sacrifice that hurts me the most,” Acovski said. “I was there, don’t get me wrong, but I could have been there a lot more. But being here 24/7 so to speak, made it a lot more difficult.”

In retirement, Acovski wants to be involved in the lives of her five grandchildren, who are all under the age of 5. Until then, she continues to enjoy her customers and will miss the interaction. In more than 40 years, she has seen many people come and go.

“Oh, I’m going to miss everything. The people coming in, talking to them. I’ve had a lot of people coming in today, with this (news of the closing) going on. I’ve seen a lot of the people I haven’t seen in a while that are jogging my memory,” she said.

She also reminisced about not seeing older customers who have passed on.

Even though Acovski smiles and laughs easily, she consistently wears black as part of her Greek Orthodox religion and culture. “This is in memory and in (grieving) of my second daughter, who we lost in a car accident 22 years ago,” she said. “This made life a little bit more difficult.”

The Butternut Bakery has seen a bevy of customers over the years. Even though the bakery will be closing soon, Acovski wants to be there for them.

“I like to tell people after the Easter holiday,” she said about when the bakery will close. “I want to be here for Easter for everybody and let them get their fill.”