Building a Business: The Baker’s Kitchen in Sutton
Ruby Dean Collins’s love for the West Virginian mountains is instilled in her soul. Her roots are deep and she’s proud of her “country style” cooking. In fact, her deep admiration for heritage cooking enabled her to write Grandma’s Favorites, a compilation of her Grandmother Murphy’s recipes. She has won cooking competitions including first the local, and then the statewide, Country Roads Cook-Offs®.
Along with her good friend Melody Urbanic of Café Cimino, Ruby helped lead the efforts to organize other community partners in establishing the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia’s® Country Roads Cook-Off as part of Braxton County’s Mountain Lakes Festival four years ago. Out of those extensive community planning efforts grew not only the event itself, but the concept of compiling a cookbook of regional recipes. Here again Ruby took the lead in writing, gathering, editing, and publishing. Contributions of recipes and stories by members of CEOS (Community Extension Outreach Service) and many of her friends and neighbors were included in The Mountain Family Treasures, a collection of a community’s family favorites was published, again with support from the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia, because of her leadership.
Following recuperation from a serious illness, Ruby’s recognized how invigorating the work with the Cook-Off and the cookbook had been for her. She really did want to share this love of Appalachian cooking with others. Starting small and offering her goods only to friends, she slowly and steadily built a new business, the Baker’s Kitchen. With friends calling and sending requests via Facebook, she started making periodic deliveries to them.
As the word spread, and people she had not known before started requesting baked goods as well as lunch items, she realized she had to get serious. It took some time but she renovated her back porch into a commercial kitchen and has passed all state and local licensing requirements. It’s official: The Baker’s Kitchen was born as a West Virginia start up business!
Tim and Melody Urbanic offered support and encouragement throughout her business growth and development. Café Cimino is a regular customer, purchasing muffins and jams to serve with their breakfasts at the B&B.
Ruby searches out local ingredients ( when in season) for her food. Much is from local farms but some is homegrown with peaches growing outside the bakery kitchen windows and rhubarb in the garden for the fresh jams and cobblers and adds her fresh green onions for the marinara sauce she not only uses for her calzones but also cans for off-season use. FRESH from the farm goodness is a hallmark of The Baker’s Kitchen products. The jams are becoming a highlight for many breakfast tables. Her specialties include Strawberry, Blackberry, and Peach.
The Baker’s Kitchen is the only full service bakery in the region, and takes pride in providing fresh, quality products to the area. She states that the decision to locate the bakery at her home was totally based on the need to be close to her grandson whom she is helping to raise. Family is paramount to Ruby and she works hard to fit it all in, often up at the crack of dawn to be able to deliver warm donuts mid-morning to her regular customers. She recently taught a Bread Baking course at New River Community and Technical College in Summersville. The Sutton Lake Marina will be offering a local favorite of the Baker’s Kitchen, Pepperoni Rolls, to their customers. She states that she is honored to serve them and looks forward to it very much. She has begun to receive orders from people outside the area. Ruby will ship anywhere in the eastern United States, saying “If it fits, it ships!” She also offers party trays for special events or can make something for those who may want good “home country cooking”.
To place an order you can find Ruby and pictures of her products on Facebook at www.facebook.com/The Baker’s Kitchen or phone 304-765-3240.