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When her eventual partners suggested Maria Farnsworth open her own place, Main Street Bakery, she said no. Flatly. It wasn’t in her future plans.
Then she walked by the empty space at 328 Main Street in Racine and the wheels began to turn. The second time they asked, the answer was yes. Earlier this week, Main Street Bakery put its first bread on racks, filled its cases with donuts and pastries, and opened its doors.
“For me, I believe that whatever I had in mind, God had something else in mind for me. Sometimes he says ‘no’ to what you want and He gives you what you need instead.”
She and her partners, Crystal Meller and Eric Hamber, had eyed Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood, but were not able to find the right kind of building for a bakery,
“We walked past this place twice,” said Farnsworth. “The first time we asked the landlord about it and he said, ‘You aren’t going to put a bakery in there.’ The second time he said yes.”
Farnsworth said, that so far, “it’s a one-man show back there.” Meaning every product in the cases and on the bread rack were handmade by her. She does have front-end help in the form of her daughter, Lauren Woodward.
“I was a cake decorator first,” she explained. “At stores and others places I worked, I filled in at different spots. I fried donuts, so I learned how to do that. Sometimes I did some baking. It was straight-forward work, but cake decorating was where it was at for me.”
Farnsworth plans to re-establish her cake baking, which had been accomplished previously in her home kitchen. “I have done wedding cakes for years out of my home, and I had a nice following,” she explained. “But when I was in my kitchen, trying to move around, I always had dreams of having my own place. And here I am.”
(While speaking with the reporter for Racine County Eye, a potential customer came in to talk about an order of 20 cakes for a company event. Farnsworth, wisely, took a break to speak with him. Apparently, her cake baking reputation is going to remain strong.)
Bright and airy
The bright and airy bakery is 3,500 square feet in size and had seating on the main floor as well as a balcony, with an open view to the lower level. It offers free WiFi, and Farnsworth hopes it will become a spot for people to drop in for a while to work and chat with friends.
The cases at the front offer bagels and donuts, with most of them carrying a 99-cent price. Muffins and other pastries generally cost $1.49. A variety of bread, rolls, and buns are also offered. You can buy a cup of coffee for $1.
With seating for 30, Main Street Bakery will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday it will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hopes for regulars
“I do see it as a place people will want to come to,” she said. “I have a regular, after just a few days. He gets a French Press coffee and a donut and he stays around working on his laptop for three or four hours. I like that. I wouldn’t mind having a couple of those.”
She also looks forward to the colder seasons, when she hopes people will plop down in the comfy chairs in front of the fireplace to sip their coffee and have a pastry. It’s an electric fireplace, she explained, but it’s the friendly ambiance she hopes will develop.
(Also during this interview, a long-awaited shipment of bags for French bread arrived. Soon, that offering will appear on the bread rack.)
Farnsworth said she doesn’t want to be known for just one kind of item.
“But I do want to be known for having a place that people say is consistently good,” she explained. “I want to be a good bakery to go to, have a nice place to sit and have a cup of coffee. I want to have a nice variety. Being known for one thing might keep people from coming in for something else.”
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