Since changing careers in 2009, Neva Austin starts her day in the kitchen at 3 a.m.
"I was in sales and wanted to do something I had a passion for," says Austin, the owner of the growing line of Aggie Mae's
bakeries in Greater Lansing. "I decided I would make breads and pastries for the farmer's market, and it just exploded from there."
Austin opened her newest bakery in Grand Ledge in mid-January after closing her shop at the Lansing City Market. The 2,100-square foot store at 914 Charlevoix Street is her second brick-and-mortar store in addition to her bakery in Lansing's Old Town.
Austin uses fresh ingredients for her breads, pastries, cakes and pies. She sources organic flour from Ferris Organic Farms
in her hometown of Eaton Rapids, and Lansing's LorAnn Oils
for flavorings. Downtown's Paramount Coffee
supplies the beans for her frequently requested cups of brew.
Austin seems destined to knead the dough. Her grandmother, Elaine Maynard, was a restaurateur in Higgins Lake, and her great grandmother, Bertie Mae, had a bakery in Breckenridge.
"My mother taught me how to bake from a very young age," says Austin of the store's namesake, Aggie Mae. "Some of my fondest memories are baking bread with my mom."
Austin makes her baked goods from scratch, including her 12 artisan breads, pastries, specialty cupcakes, pies and cheesecake. She also claims 15 made-to-order sandwiches, a signature granola, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast items.
Austin's Grand Ledge bakery employs seven staff. She adapted the space in the newer strip mall by painting, knocking out a wall, and replacing floor tile. She also brought in her own display cabinets, coolers and bakery equipment, and put in seating for up to 15 dine-in customers. She's held off doing a grand opening, but is planning one for late March or April, once the weather turns.
"My mother absolutely loves to come in," says Austin. "Her favorite thing, of course, is the 'Aggie Mae,' our signature chicken salad sandwich that is made in-house."
Source: Neva Austin, owner, Aggie Mae's Bakery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor