By Ryan Cornell
For Maureen Menefee, owner of the soon-to-be-opened Down Home Comfort Bakery, she learned from the best.
Eight years ago, she visited Amish farms in rural Pennsylvania to learn more about their way of living and study how they make food naturally without preservatives.
Now Menefee is ready to open up her own bakery in Downtown Front Royal on June 18, and plans to use many of the lessons she learned during her research trip.
"We really want everything to be as close to what the Amish do," she said. "They use a lot of natural ingredients. It just tastes so much better, and you don't get that aftertaste from the artificial stuff."
The bakery, located at 120-A E. Main St. in the 1,500-square-foot space previously housing an antique shop, will sell cakes, pies, cupcakes, cookies, and her specialties, creme-filled cookies and breads.
"All fresh ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, everything is natural," she said. "It's everything you're supposed to eat, and not that chemically enhanced stuff."
The bakery will also have an Amish-style farmers market, offering fresh produce such as eggs, milk, cheese, jelly and honey for sale.
Menefee has lived in Front Royal since moving from the Midwest in 1979.
As a young girl growing up in Nebraska, she recalled being given a book from her teacher on how to run a gift shop and hire employees.
"She said, 'Maureen, I see you doing this someday,'" Menefee said about her teacher. "I love to bake, I love to make breads and pies and cakes, and always had that in my heart since I was 8 years old. She saw that in me, that I wanted to do that someday."
She said she's been baking for more than 20 years, but it wasn't until her husband recently lost his sight and had to go on disability that she decided to open up the bakery.
Last weekend, she handed out samples of her baked goods, which quickly proved to be a hit.
"You can't imagine the response we got," she said. "A few people were skeptical: 'All-natural, whatever,' because they heard people say that, and they take a bite and their eyes light up and they say this is the best I ever had."
A separate section of the bakery will be dedicated to working with nuts, she said, so people with allergies don't have to worry about cross-contaminated products.
The bakery will also offer gluten-free products, and depending on requests, sugar-free items.
Menefee said the bakery will have Wi-Fi and historic photos of Front Royal from as early as the 1800s hanging on its walls.
Down Home Comfort Bakery will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
For more information, contact Menefee at 540-635-6013.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com