TRACY - Baking is something she's always loved, Donna Meier said. And now she has the chance to do what she loves full-time, while filling a need in the Tracy community.
Meier, a Balaton resident, is the new manager of the Tracy Bakery. The business had been for sale, but Meier said she's willing to give running it a try, with the possible option of becoming the new owner in the future.
"This is a big adventure," Meier said. "It's something I've always wanted to do."
Meier began managing the Tracy Bakery at the beginning of April. She's relatively new to the Tracy area, having moved from Dovray to Balaton last year. Meier started working at Benson's By the Lake in Balaton, and learned about the bakery from conversations with Mike Benson.
"I was talking to my boss, and I told him how much I love to bake," Meier said. "Then one day he came up to me and told me the Tracy Bakery was for sale. He introduced me to Claire (Hannasch)," one of the bakery's owners.
After some discussion with Hannasch, she said, "We decided I would manage the bakery for a couple of years, and see if this was something I really wanted to get into."
"So far, we've been doing pretty well," she said. "Just in this month, I've noticed sales have gone up."
In the past month, Meier has added a variety of bars and other treats to the bakery's regular offerings, and has started decorating cakes. "That was something they hadn't had in a long time," she said. Meier said some of the recipes she uses came from her mother, while others come from listening to customers' requests. Meier said head baker Ray Hay also guards some of the bakery's recipes.
Meier said she is also expanding the bakery's menu to include ice cream. She said learning to manage a commercial bakery was very different from baking projects at home. It's also early-morning work - Meier said she's typically at the bakery at 4:30 a.m. to help get everything ready to go for customers and deliveries. As the day progresses, there's also the local lunch crowd to prepare for.
"It's really an exciting career, because it's never the same thing twice," Meier said. She works together with Hay and three staff members. If business continues to pick up, she said she may expand staff.
Meier said it was important to support local businesses like the bakery, especially in a time when small businesses are getting fewer and farther between.
"I really do believe that," she said. Besides being a part of the community, the bakery offers good, fresh products.
"Everything we do is from scratch. Nothing is frozen, nothing is brought in," Meier said.
Community response has been strong, she said.
"It's just like I've been here for years, everyone's so friendly," Meier said. Customers have told her they were glad to see the bakery stay open for business.