Ring out the old, Ring in the New…2012 Our Year in Review!

It doesn’t seem possible that another year has passed!  2012 has come and gone and thankfully it was another year full of goodness for Baked Dessert Cafe & Gallery and the little historic town of Berlin, Maryland.  This was the first year that we chose to close shop at the bakery during the celebration so that our focus could simply be on enjoying the evening with our family and friends. Only on its third year, the Berlin Ball Drop has become quite the tradition.  We were amongst the thousands of young and old, locals and visitors who chose to spill into the streets of Berlin watching the ball drop at Broad and Main Street.

Many new customers, along with our loyal seasonal and  local supporters, crossed our threshold this year.  Most new customers found their way to us via Social Media outlets; Yelp and TripAdvisor our new best friends.  In April we celebrated our 2nd year in business and in July our first full year in our new and improved space.

We acquired our liquor license in May which brought new and improved meaning to getting “BAKED” at the beach and added a convenience to our customers looking to purchase great wines and craft brew. New recipes were tried, some big winners, some not.  Our signature desserts the Peach Dumpling, Cupcake Bread Pudding and Cupcake Bombs still the consistent sell outs.  We added new, deliciously Gluten Free and Vegan desserts, meals and bread mix for our customers following those specific diets and we more than doubled our wholesale business.

We received several significant awards this year as well.   The two we are most proud of are the Worcester County Green Business Award and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce Philanthropy Award.  Showing some love to Mother Earth and one another is of the utmost importance to both Shelly and I.   We feel blessed to have been able to donate thousands of dollars to various local charities and thanks to Worcester Youth and Family, we were also able to adopt local families in need during the holidays.

Looking ahead, this New Year will include a trip to the Food and Wine Festival in Charleston in late February, early March and a trip to Spain.  We are so excited to bring back some new and exciting recipes and wine from those journies.  We’ll be packaging our Gluten Free Cake Mix for sale and adding new apparel to our line up.  We are looking forward to continued collaboration with our neighboring businesses to include new and improved service to our customers and

get "BAKED"!

get “BAKED”!

I, of course, will continue to try to keep up with technology.  There’s so much more to come!

2013 will bring new challenges and triumphs I’m sure, but we are ready for both.  We’ve celebrated so much this year;  non of it possible without the love and support of our family, friends, loyal customers and business community.  Thank you all!  We look forward to serving you and our community and we wish everyone a New Year filled with Peace, Love, Laughter, Great Health and Great Eats!

We don’t accept tips, but we will PAY IT FORWARD everyday!

If you know us, you know that we are big fans of the “Pay It Forward” movement.

If you don’t know, the expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having a good turn done to others.  In other words, you do a good deed for someone and in turn they do a good deed for someone and so on.  Hence the term “pay it forward”.  Can you even imagine our world if everyone, everyday subscribed to this concept?

Our customers try to give us tips all the time.  We’re grateful, but reply, “We don’t accept tips unless it’s a life tip or a really good stock tip, but we will collect for a charity”.  Over the course of the last two years, we’ve mostly concentrated on “Paying It Forward” by collecting food and money for the local churches who help feed the hungry, our efforts usually concentrated on collecting during the holiday season.  We realize that the need in our community is an everyday need, not just seasonal so, we’re making some positive changes.

I have to add here that I am repeatedly amazed and humbled by the dedication and generosity of the people in our community who care for those in need.  One church around the corner feeds more than 200 people every Wednesday.   Another operates the Church Mouse Thrift Shop in town.  Run solely by volunteers, the Church Mouse profits mainly fund community outreach programs and the list of these types of organizations could go on and on.

Without getting too sappy here, God has given Shelly and I so much that we are compelled to “Pay It Forward” and have decided to refocus our efforts on making sure that we do just that everyday, all year-long.  So beginning in April, which also happens to be our second Anniversary in business, we will raise money and awareness for the programs in our community who “Pay It Forward” everyday and are in need of help.

For the month of April we will work to “Pay It Forward” to Diakonia in Ocean City.  Diakonia has been helping individuals and families in Worcester County and on the Lower Shore for more than 30 years.  They “Pay It Forward” by providing shelter, food, clothing and the resources to rebuild the lives of those in need.  Diakonia is the only comprehensive provider of emergency and transitional housing for men, women and families on the Lower Shore.  As you can imagine, the need here is great.

Diakonia’s moto is “Help for today, Hope for tomorrow”.  Enough said!  We invite you to join us and “Pay It Forward”.Baked Dessert Cafe and Gallery

The big BALL DROP and Getting “BAKED” at the beach…a year in review!

Sister Love!

Continuing to get "BAKED" in 2012

If I could describe 2011 in one word it would be “AMAZING”!

The last night of it was no exception.  We spent it with the people we love, loyal customers and thousands of others who gathered in Berlin to watch a “Times Square look a like” Ball Drop.  Residents, visitors, young, old and even pets poured into town and peacefully partied into the wee hours to bring in what hopefully for everyone is a Promising New Year.  It brought a whole new meaning to getting “BAKED” for the holiday!

First, our success would not be possible without the love and support of our family and friends.  The support and encouragement from our business neighbors and the continued support from the town of Berlin, its’ Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Program, Grow Berlin Green and more are priceless.  I must single out here two people who work harder than anyone I know insuring that doing business in Berlin is a dream…Michael Day Director of Economic Development  and Olive Mawyer Executive Director.  What can we say to everyone, but THANK YOU!

Without going blow-by-blow, suffice it to say that 2011 was an exciting year, but not without its challenges.  Within months, Shelly got divorced, we bought our partner out and in 5 days we moved our business down the street to our new and improved location at 4 C Bay Street.  Unfortunately, we lost one of our favorite people who also happened to be our landlord.  We really miss Ed and so does this town that he loved so dearly.  Oh yah, there were also Kenny and Shelly’s emergency surgeries right before the holidays.  That really made things interesting.  Sometimes “it’s not all cupcakes and sprinkles”.

On a brighter note, we’ve grown from peddling all natural “BAKED” goods to peddling all natural “BAKED” goods and running a “Fine Art” gallery.  We’ve developed a friendship and partnership with renowned artist Patrick Henry and began showcasing his and other local art talent.  We’ve included organic lunches, homemade Krackers and cheese spread to our ever-expanding all natural menu.   New dessert favorites emerged with the addition of our signature Cupcake Bread Pudding, Cupcake Bombs and Liquor Soaked Bundt Cakes.  More people got “BAKED” for the holidays than ever before!  We began selling our “BAKED” goods wholesale and we are currently working on a new line of comical “BAKED” apparel.  Plus, we hope to have more exciting news come February.  Oh yah, we also won, the now controversial, Berlin Bathtub Race when we partnered with Ayer’s Creek Adventures.  We know people are coming for us this year.

We feel totally blessed to be thriving in Berlin, a town that is filled with incredibly unique restaurants, B&B’s, boutiques, shops, artists and even Burley Oaks microbrewery.  Most, are family run businesses and many are operated by really strong business women.   What an awesome New Year’s resolution…find your passion, do something you love, turn it into a business and then “go for it” with no regrets.

Shelly and I love what we do and who we serve!  We’ve said this a lot, but we must say it again…the best part of our job is the people we serve or as we fondly refer to them as “The Best Customers on the Planet”!  We look forward to another “AMAZING” year filled with getting everyone “BAKED” at the beach.   Mostly, we wish everyone a New Year filled with HOPE, LOVE, HAPPINESS, GREAT HEALTH and PROSPERITY!

If you’ve never been to Berlin, if you’ve never gotten “BAKED” at the beach, then definitley put these on your “2012 to do list”.   You won’t regret it!  PEACE!

Buy Local…the Challenge!

Baked's Berlin T-shirt

Buy Locally in Berlin

There is a challenge in our area to go one month purchasing local food and product without buying from sources like chain supermarkets and warehouse stores.  We have accepted this challenge personally and professionally and can attest to the fact that the term “challenge” is appropriate for this project.  The fact is, some things are easier to purchase locally than others.  No matter, the fact is buying local has significant advantages whether you are interested in higher quality ingredients, stimulating the local economy and/or reducing your “carbon footprint”.

It began when Christie McDowell, owner of the Good Farm in Berlin, challenged herself this very same way last Summer. “The goal I set was to buy as direct from the producer as possible and buy nothing with preservatives or any unnecessary additives,” McDowell said. “I found the gaps in local food options, what you can get and where you can get it. I bought some of the healthy options at Ocean City Organics in West Ocean City if farmers’ markets didn’t have something”.  Bryan Brushmiller, owner of Burley Oaks Brewery which is preparing to open it’s doors on August 12th, was inspired by McDowell’s project and has joined forces to expand the challenge.  Brushmiller himself purchases rye, hops and barley from local farmers for use in his handcrafted brew.

Shelly and I have always been committed to purchasing as much locally as possible.  Not because it’s the new “buzz word” for marketing, but because it just simply seems, to us, to be the right thing to do.  When you purchase locally, ingredients are fresher and higher in quality, you stimulate your local economy and because “the goods” are not transported from hundreds of miles away, the “carbon footprint” is reduced which helps Mother Earth.

Owning a business and having to purchase product in bulk poses significant difficulty with some vendors.  Dairy has presented a challenge, although local eggs haven’t been easy to purchase on a bulk scale either. Ironically, several egg producers in the area have committed all of their product to the Whole Foods Corporation. Go figure, the “big boys” who also promote buying locally are preventing the small businesses from doing the same.  Unbleached and unbromated  flour is a whole other story.  On a positive note, fruits, veggies, beef, poultry, seafood, coffee, cheeses, honey, soaps, lotions, crafts, jewelry and of course, all natural DESSERTS, BREADS and BEVERAGES are no problem!

This challenge is raising awareness in our community and identifying the gaps, that together, we can work to fill.  Brushmiller and McDowell want anyone raising food or fishing locally who want to promote their wares to contact them at www.burlyoak.com and at www.wegrowgoodfood.com.

Food and Fine Art…the perfect combination!

Wow, this past month has been a blur.  Now that the remodeling and move is complete, Shelly and I look back and aren’t sure how we managed to meet our goal of reopening on July 1st, but we did.  The overwhelming consensus is that our move to this historic building at 4 C Bay Street and the inclusion of a gallery is a great one and the perfect combination of food and fine art.

Honestly, we hadn’t thought about moving Baked Dessert Cafe and it certainly had not crossed our mind to merge a gallery with our all natural desserts, breads and beverages, but then again, God does work in mysterious ways.  Hours before we learned that our building had been sold, we were told that the gallery space at 4 C Bay Street was available.   When we walked down to see the space, Patrick Henry was working in his gallery and the discussion of expanding and relocating Baked Dessert Cafe began.

Shelly and I have admired Patrick’s work over the years so having it now adorn the walls of our business is simply amazing and breathtaking.  The inclusion of the gallery has also added a new dimension to our business. We’ve had our fans find us and thus familiarize themselves with Patrick’s Fine Art and his fans have visited and, in turn, have become fans of “Baked”. All have commented that it seems to be a perfect pairing of the two and we whole heartedly agree.

In addition to showcasing Patrick’s work, we intend to highlight a local artist each month.  There is so much talent in this little town! The very first person we thought of for July was Debbi Dean-Colley.  An amazing artist, activist and mother, Debbi creates”Mixed Green Jewelry” which utilizes recycled and upcycled materials.  Her creations are simply beautiful and available through the month of July!  Stay tuned for the talent coming in August!

As the gallery and highlighted artist change, our all natural desserts, breads, cheeses and beverages will change too.  Of course, what we call “fan favorites” will always be “BAKED” at “BAKED”, but we will add more “old school” offerings like baked custards, apple dumplings and the like.

We’re also working on a “brown bag” lunch which will be healthy and affordable.  Sodas sweetened with California varietal wine grapes, organic yogurt, smoothies and local cheeses and spreads are already available.  Homemade crackers are also on our “to be conquered” list.  We’ve looking into a liquor license for beer and wine which may bring new meaning to getting “BAKED” at the beach, lol.  Our larger “digs” have afforded us room to included an area designed specifically to promote other local businesses and community events, everything from antiquities to landscape services, Lions Club events to firehouse fundraisers.

This move pushed us “out of the box” or should I say the “bowling alley”.   It has reminded us that change, even when not expected, can be a great thing and hard work and determination do pay off.   Even though, “It’s not all cupcakes and sprinkles”, this little family run business in the historic town of Berlin, continues to be “SWEET”!  So, when you find us and you get “BAKED” at the beach, please enjoy the perfect combination of Food and Fine Art!

Shelly, Patrick and Robin

It takes a village…!

Movin Up TownMany of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child“.  I think we can safely say that it also takes a “village” to ready, move and reorganize a business in 5 days.

We are so excited to begin our new adventure as Baked Dessert Cafe and Gallery in our newly renovated, beautifully bright, historic location at 4 C Bay Street.  Still in the heart of Berlin, just across the street from Berlin’s Town Hall and a hop, skip and a jump from the historic Atlantic Hotel, we are thrilled to continue to serve this wonderful community and its many visitors.

Our plan to close one location on a Saturday and reopen at the new location just 5 days later, at times, seemed overly optimistic, particularly considering the fact that our new home had to undergo significant renovations.  All of our permitting, electric, plumbing, interior, signage and promotional information had to be reworked, our equipment and furnishings moved, reconfigured and reorganized.  The list could go on and on.

We couldn’t have succeeded without the help and support of our “tribe” of family and friends and  we are grateful to this “village” of commerce and contractors who made our opening possible.  Words are just not enough, but “Thank You”!  As far as the contractors are concerned, we highly recommend each one and appreciate their professionalism, timeliness and particularly their fair pricing and flexibility.

Patrick Henry Fine Arts

Plant Design by Jill Hoshal  443.783.3233

Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Berlin Town Hall

RYT Plumbing  410.213.2126

Dave Wallace Electric  443.497.0492

Mike Nichols Flooring  410.749.5241

Lauer Builders  410.880.0216

Steve Taylor of Ayer‘s Creek Adventures  443.513.0889

Design Resources, Barbara Stack  410.641.2988

Copy Central  410-208-0641

Sun Signs  410.641.9944

“BAKED” is expanding to include a gallery and relocating!

BAKED DESSERT CAFE is expanding to include a GALLERY and RELOCATING to our NEW HOME at 4 C BAY STREET IN BERLIN, MARYLAND.  We’re just a hop, skip and a jump from the Atlantic Hotel and right around the corner from Bungalow Love and Coconut Bay and just across the street from Town Hall. You will also be able to find us and get “BAKED” at the Berlin Farmer’s Market every Friday from 10:00 to 2:00.

After learning that our building had been sold, Shelly and I had been scrambling to find a new home for BAKED DESSERT CAFE.  Many of our customers had kindly reminded us that “things happen for a reason” and that “something bigger and better will be on the other side” of what, at times, has been a very difficult and stressful situation. What can we say, “It’s not all cupcakes and sprinkles”.

We are so truly grateful for those reminders and for the “gifts” of support, encouragement and confidence that we have been shown by this great community.  All we can say is that the “Divine has certainly intervened and is very much present in the people we serve”! We are thrilled to have found such a wonderful new space in so little time and we expect to open the doors of this new historic location in the beginning of July.

As if it couldn’t get any better, our new home is the gallery of renown local artist Patrick Henry and we feel honored to continue to share and showcase Patrick’s fine art with the public.  In time and in addition to showcasing Patrick’s work, we will add and highlight the works of other local artists.  Our new home is bright and beautifully designed and allows for space to enjoy our all natural “goodies” while appreciating the gifts and creativity of Berlin’s local talent.

We are busy working on making our new space our own!   We will close temporarily on June 26th to move and reorganize, but intend to reopen quickly. We are excited to serve our all natural, fan favorite desserts, breads and beverages and we intend to include new additions to our menu for your enjoyment, some sweet, some savory.

Stay tuned to our facebook, twitter and website for updates on our progress.  Find our new home, stop in and take a peak and look forward to getting “BAKED” at the beach at our new location…4 C Bay Street, Berlin, Maryland 21811 410.641.1800

The Sweet Life…striking “the balance”…working it out!

No one has to tell us about diets, indulging in sweets in moderation and watching the waist line.  Our stretchy pants feel the pain of having to taste most everything that leaves the building everyday.  Plus, I’m sure that you’ve read our previous post about “you can have your cake and eat it too” so I am not going to elaborate on that subject.  So what, you ask, am I blogging about now?  Well, it’s our newest endeavor.

We want to connect our customers with our local fitness centers, personal trainers/coaches and share healthy eating tips.  You think it’s “weird” that the owners of a dessert cafe are blogging about fitness?  Let me be clear, we definitely want you to get “BAKED” at the beach, but it is as important to us that our customers are happy and most importantly healthy.  We hope you know that this is why we are committed to baking au’naturale.   We seriously believe that good health and happiness are all about striking “the balance” between the “healthy” and the “indulgent”.   Sometimes that balancing act is just down right difficult.

This  idea came to me when I saw a customer of ours at the gym.  She kindly commented on our facebook post and picture of our Monster Cream Puff asking, “Do you think I could eat half of one if I walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill”?  “Why yes”, I replied and voila the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off.  Why not  connect with the local fitness gurus and share fitness tips, “specials” and wellness strategies with our fans?  Why not ask our fans to share their success stories, tips and recipes.  I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the help that I can get!

No matter if you are a local, just visiting or vacationing at the beach, there are a plethora of fitness centers to choose from and most offer yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily rates.  Some are even open 24 hours a day.  Fitness centers are not a “one size fits all” and gyms here are no exception.  They offer different fitness philosophies, different work out schedules, classes and styles and varying approaches to reaching your fitness goals.  Most of the centers provide personal coaching, some are class oriented, some more “free weight” minded.  Some follow specific diet regimens like the Paleo Diet which one of our friends and customers recently shared a dessert recipe from.  It was so delicious, Chocolate Babies are now on our “favorites” menu.

Shelly and I come from a large family who celebrate every occasion with food and we own a bakery for gosh sakes. We are constantly striving to strike “the balance” and so we work out almost every morning together.  I personally can’t imagine the strain on our stretchy pants if we didn’t.   One of the factors that we considered when joining a gym was the convenience of the location to the bakery and our children’s school.  Let’s face it, some days are harder than others and for us convenience was a major consideration.  I’ll be honest, the struggle for me is walking through the gym door.  Once I make it past that threshold, I’m “golden” and I always feel physically and mentally better for it.

So, in addition to providing you the very best all natural desserts, breads and beverages, we’re also going to be “rooting out” fitness tips, gym specials and healthy dessert recipes for your overall wellbeing and enjoyment.  We’ll be providing more gluten free, diabetic friendly and vegan dessert options at “BAKED” and are interested in your own personal success stories, winning tips, strategies and recipes.  Visit us on facebook, share your strategies and join our quest to strike “the balance” for a happy, healthy, sweet life.

Sticking to our guns, I mean our “buns”!

Our good friend and former partner Jill brought us an article from the News Journal highlighting the thoughts of Sam Calagiones’s who is the founder and president of the very successful Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and star of the Discovery Channels “Brew Masters”.

Calagione was speaking during the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Executive Leadership Series at Salisbury University.  In the article, Calagione’s was quoted as saying, “When we weren’t profitable, it would have been very easy to discount our beer, dumb down our beer, but we didn’t.”  “We stuck to our guns and we kept brewing these exotic beers”.  In response, Bob Wood, dean of the Perdue School, stated that Calagione had shared a valuable lesson to the audience. “Money is fine, but if you’re in it for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.” “You’ve got to have a passion for what you do.”  The article further stated that Dogfish Head doesn’t compete with other breweries, but instead offers a spirit of collaboration.

These statements and Calagione’s philosophy really resonate with us because we feel the same way.  Hand crafting all natural desserts and using high quality ingredients is more expensive and time-consuming than the alternative.  Not everyone cares or appreciates the effort, but  we are passionate about what we do and committed to providing high quality desserts, breads and beverages to our customers.   We won’t feed you anything we wouldn’t feed to our own family!

From the beginning, we consciously decided not to compete with our commercial neighbors.  We could have and it would certainly have generated additional income for us, but we didn’t and don’t.  We are very interested in the spirit of collaboration.   We believe that collaborating with other businesses will help us and others be the best that we all can be.  Particularly in the little town of Berlin, Maryland, we believe that what’s good for one of us is good for all of us!

We’ve learned a lot this past year!  We’ve had ideas that didn’t work so well and great ideas that have and we have grown from both.  We know that there are more  lessons to come and that we are going to make mistakes along the way.  We’re choosing to measure our success by remaining focused on what makes us and our customers happy.

Some business professionals suggest that you not only know your competition, but that you also model their successes. We understand why that makes sense, but also believe that whether personally or professionally, solely following that philosophy can be the distraction that discourages and prevents you from living and creating authentically.  We salute Sam Calagione for all of his success and his forward thinking business approach.  Like Mr. Calagione’s, we too are going to “stick to our buns” and continue providing superb quality, all-natural desserts, breads and beverages to the best customers on the planet!

Paying it forward, making a difference one cupcake at a time!

The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead.  In celebration of our 1 Year Anniversary, we intend to do just that!  From April 4th through April 8th, we will be collecting monetary and food donations to help the First Baptist Church of Berlin replenish their food pantry. When you donate, we will happily satisfy your “Sweet Tooth” with a FREE, all natural dessert.

My first experience with the term “pay it forward” was watching the film Pay It Forward which was an adaptation of the novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  In the book and the movie it is described as the obligation to do three good deeds for others in repayment of a good deed that one receives.  In this way, the need to help others then spreads through society and the movement, in turn, makes the world a better place.

Courtesy of WIKI…

The idea of the book and movie has been championed in real life by the Pay It Forward Foundation. The Foundation focuses on bringing the idea of paying it forward to school age children, parents, and educators. The simple idea of doing good works for others to repay the good that has happened to you is one that can easily be conveyed to children and encourages them to be socially aware and take a role in making the world a better place.[citation needed] The main character of the book was a 12-year-old child, thus giving other children someone they can relate to.

We are a small business and “giving product away” is an expense, but we are committed to this community and making a positive difference here.  There are so many people struggling in this economy, the need for assistance in and surrounding this community is greater than ever.   Imagine, if each of us performs three good deeds to help another, no matter how small, and those people perform three good deeds and then those people perform three good deeds and so on.   What an impact it would make…whose life might be changed…how this world could be different?

We have been given so much by this community.  The best part of owning this business has been meeting the locals, servicing our customers and this great community.  We mean it when we say that “We have the best customers on the planet in the greatest little seaside town”.   Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive.   “Paying it forward“, even if it’s one cupcake at a time, is just our way of saying Thank You and encouraging positive change in the community that we share!