WCU alum, wife to open bakery in downtown Sylva
Mainstreet Bakery and Cafe in Sylva currently has a sign thanking awaiting customers for their support. Kalen Quinn
For Sylva residents yearning for the smell of fresh baked baguettes and croissants, they will have the opportunity to indulge in their pastry of choice soon enough. Chad and Heather Kindy are hard at work on Sylva's newest business, the Mainstreet Bakery and Café.
After Annie and Joe Ritota decided to close the retail portion of Annie's Naturally Bakery last November to focus on their wholesale business, downtown Sylva lacked the familiar smell of hot Reuben sandwiches and biscotti.
Luckily for residents and visitors, the Kindys, both former Annie's employees, have purchased the business space. They intend to build on the solid foundation that Annie's created.
"We didn't flat out purchase the store from Joe and Annie, but Annie's Bakery is definitely our inspiration," said Heather Kindy, who started at the local bakery in 2005, working virtually every department except for the actual baking of the bread.
When Heather hurt her leg skiing, Chad covered for her at Annie's and never left, enjoying working for the retail bakery just as much as Heather.
After the closure of the retail portion of Annie's, Chad and Heather decided it was time to start their own adventure in the world of retail baking.
"It just hit us one day," Heather said. "We had thought about starting our own bakery and always saw it as an option, but we loved working for Annie's. Then, after the retail portion of Annie's closed, we realized the loss that the community was going through. Having worked here so long, we weren't ready to give it up yet."
Chad, who graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in entrepreneurship, added, "A bakery is a gathering spot for a lot of people in the community. It's like a second home for many people."
Having previously owned a small glass studio on Main Street and paired with their years of experience with Annie's, the Kindys feel confident in their decision and the choices they have made for the new store.
While they have a plethora of their own retail knowledge, the Kindys have received help from the community as well.
"We've worked with people in the community and they have given us great advice," Chad said. "Dr. Lockwood at Western has really helped us out a lot, too, whom I had as a professor during my time there."
With both confidence and support in hand, the Kindys only have the remodeling of the store itself left before they can start churning out chocolate chip cookies and coffee cakes.
"Annie's had a good foundation and that's why we are modeling our business after it," Heather said. "We aren't doing any major renovations, just a minor facelift. For instance, we have a new floor plan to utilize space better, which will double the amount of seating for the new store. We've added bench seating in the windows and a bar seating area."
The Kindys also hope to bring some new ideas to the table, both literally and figuratively.
"The Mainstreet Bakery and Café will cater to a wider variety of customers. For instance, we will add a kid's corner, which is a huge thing for us personally because we have a small child of our own," Chad said. "Also, while we will still be providing all natural, locally grown products and buying from Annie's wholesale, our menu will be similar but not exactly the same."
The Kindys hope to add some new local favorites of their own to the menu.
"Our goal is to be involved in the community as much as possible," Heather said.
She added that whether that is through being a member of local business groups or simply providing a place for local residents and visitors to the area to relax and enjoy good food, they want to have the community at heart in the decisions they make for their business.
There is no set opening for the Mainstreet Bakery and Café, but the Kindys are hard at work preparing the store for its eventual opening. Menu decisions, seating renovations, and curious residents are just some of the encounters that they have dealt with.
"People are very interested in the opening of another bakery," Chad said. "All of the newspapers have been asking us for a date, but we're not sure yet."
There's no doubt that the Kindys simply want the community's newest business to be perfect and if that means waiting a bit longer, then the thought of fresh blueberry Danishes and warm snickerdoodles can tide everyone over until then.
"This is our home and we plan on staying. The community keeps the businesses going so we are doing what we can to meet the needs of the community," added the Kindys, radiating with excitement at the prospect of bringing back not only a community favorite, but something special in their own hearts.
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