For the love of pastries, how a bakery survives the virus
by Andrew Alonzo | email@example.com
When Scott Feemster, general manager of Some Crust Bakery, recounted how the 104-year old business was able to get through a global pandemic, he attributed their survival to hungry customers who didn’t want to get their freshly baked pastries anywhere else.
“We were still here…I think it’s kind of almost like a ‘beacon of hope’ you know. The people still get to come down and get their favorite cookie or favorite coffees,” Mr. Feemster said. “How can I put it? We feel that they [customers] got us through the pandemic and then we like to feel like we got them through the pandemic.”
Even in the early months of COVID-19 when there was limited foot traffic in the Claremont Village, Mr. Feemster said a few people would still line up outside the shop before opening to jumpstart their days with a coffee and a pastry.
“We were able to maintain enough business where we just kind of, well…chugged along,” Mr. Feemster said. “We definitely didn’t make any money last year.”
Although the bakery was not subject to coronavirus closure, Mr. Feemster and the owner of Some Crust, his father Larry Feemster, discussed in March 2020 whether they should close or not. They eventually decided to stay open because of their loyal customers.
“We have a lot of repeat customers and that was something both Larry and I were thinking about,” Mr. Feemster said. “We talked about how we don’t want to shut this down completely so how do we do this safely.”
Apart from mask wearing, social distancing and a store capacity limit of four people indoors, hardly anything changed for customers. Patrons were always able to enter and order their favorite pastry from Some Crust’s glass case of goods as well as their sandwiches, salads, coffees and egg sliders over the last year.
However, behind the scenes, Mr. Feemster spoke about how difficult the year was.
“It was terrible,” Mr. Feemster said. “Our business dropped by quite a bit. We had to cut back our hours. We had months where we were wondering if and how we were gonna’ make it.”
During his 10 years at Some Crust, Mr. Feemster explained he’d seen the cake decorating and delivery business expand. During the pandemic, however, he saw it come to a screeching halt.
“As you can imagine, our cake business just hit a steep cliff when the shutdowns hit because all of the venues and everything closed,” Mr. Feemster said. “We went from having around 20 or 30 cakes a week to zero. It just fell off a cliff, it just stopped.”
“Then of course when everything locked down…people weren’t out walking around as much,” Mr. Feemster said. “We did actually receive a PPP [Personal Paycheck Protection] loan and that did help.”
But thanks to his customers, Mr. Feemster elaborated, the bakery did not have to dip into those funds often.
Mr. Feemster praised his staff of cake decorators, pastry chefs and bakers who were able to consistently produce the products that brought customers back.
“I’ve heard anecdotally from some customers that they were glad we were able to stay open and kind of be there for them. And vice versa,” Mr. Feemster said. “The fact that we have so many regular customers is just a testament…to the fact that we are something of an institution in the town. People love us and we love them back.”
According to Mr. Feemster, people both inside and outside of Claremont come to the Yale Street shop just to get a taste of their freshly baked breads, cookies, croissants or fruit-filled danishes. Or to order a wedding cake for their big day.
“It’s a fun job but I will say it’s a lot of work running a bakery,” Mr. Feemster said. “We do absolutely everything in-house. We all kind of band together and try and get things done and make a fun working atmosphere. But like I said, it’s a lot of hard work too.”
Some Crust Bakery is located on 119 Yale Avenue in the Claremont Village. To try their fresh pastries, bread and other treats, stop by Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m, Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Customers can also reach them for cake inquiries at 909-621-9772.