Happy Birthday, Bakery: One Year in Business

Contributor Liz Petruska returns to GFS today to give us an update on life as a bakery owner and entrepreneur. The Village Bakery and Cafe in Waldoboro, Maine, is approaching its first birthday, and just like a child, it’s had some growing pains—albeit delicious, donut-shaped growing pains. Take it away, Liz:

It’s hard to believe that we’re quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of our bakery’s beginnings. And it’s funny to think back on how our hours were spent in April of last year—we had just selected our paint colors, and were hard at work dousing the space in green and picking up a never-ending pile of debris. It seemed like we’d never settle on a name or that we’d ever actually get to the baking part of this new endeavor. It seemed like we’d never be ready to open in time.

A lot has changed since then, but that feeling of never being ready still lingers. It appeared recently when we got an order for four dozen donuts. Now, that may be a drop in the bucket for Dunkin’ Donuts, but on an average day we make eight. No, not eight dozen, eight donuts.

village bakery donuts

And the feeling reappeared this week when we got an order for six dozen bagels. At least with bagels we make a dozen daily, but still, that’s a pretty big jump in production, even just for one day. The scale of our operation is certainly small, and it makes me chuckle when I am describing our business to new people, but it’s just the right size for our small, rural town.

What’s really been most challenging in our first year is not knowing what’s next. It was a rough winter in Maine—lots of snow kept lots of people indoors—but we made it through the season and are still standing. And although the big orders sometimes throw us for a loop, they help us to try new recipes, to reach new customers and ultimately expand our business.

Maine snow

not an exaggeration

We’ve finally settled into routines that make all of this possible, and we’re careful about adding new recipes and menu options little by little. New equipment has been added slowly, but we couldn’t be happier with our “new to us” Hobart stand mixer and the new sandwich unit. The little things are exciting too, like the nifty spoon we use to take the donuts out of the oil. And the biggest addition—employees—has been so helpful in giving us all an extra break now and then.

When I think back to the state of the bakery in April 2010, I am so proud of how far we have come. And I think I can say for all of us that the last year has been challenging, but also a lot of fun. Sure, I often groan when the alarm goes off at 4:30 am, by the time I’m in the kitchen and the smells of the morning’s treats start to rise, I’m happy to be there. It’s great to see the sticky buns, bagels, scones (and the eight donuts) disappear one by one throughout the day, but I treasure that moment first thing in the morning when the full bounty is presented.

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  1. says

    We’re REALLY going to have to try to get up there this year — and to get one of those eight donuts.

  2. Jane Boursaw says

    Oh my gosh, it seems like just yesterday when I read the original post about the bakery here! Thanks so much for the update, and for reminding us that hard work and perseverance is everything. The “not knowing what’s next” is, I think, a daily thought for a lot of us entrepreneurs, whether it’s a bakery or a blogging business. Just keep going. I can’t help but think about a great line in the movie ‘Win Win’ – how a teenager wrestler stays at the top of his game by doing “whatever the [beep] it takes!” Yep, that about sums it up.