Fans of Lavender and Honey Kitchen’s cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats no longer have to wait till Saturday morning to pick them up at Cobblestone Farmers Market. Now, they can get them five days a week.
Lavender and Honey opened its own retail bakery and café Dec. 4 at 401 West End Blvd.
The move has been more than a year in the making, but even through months of the coronavirus pandemic there never was a doubt for owners Naomi and Natalie Gingerich.
“Actually, COVID was good for us. Our business grew by leaps and bounds because we were like a pop-up and Cobblestone was able to keep going,” Naomi Gingerich said.
Naomi Gingerich, 58, and daughter, Natalie, 31, signed a lease on West End Boulevard in November 2019. Because of the building’s former industrial use as a pest-control business, they had to do a thorough environmental cleanup through the EPA’s Brownfields Program, which stretched out the renovation. “Topsoil had to be removed from the site and everything. From the ground up, the whole place had to be cleaned up,” Naomi said.
The pandemic also caused a few delays in construction work, but eventually it all got done.
The new space is about 2,000 square feet. It includes not only a new and spacious kitchen — which customers can see through a glass window — but also seating in the form of one long dining table with benches as well as a handful of small café tables. A whole wall full of windows at the front makes the space feel light and airy. There is also a spacious patio in the rear.
The Gingeriches come from a Mennonite family in Ohio. Naomi Gingerich’s father was a farmer and Mennonite pastor. She grew up on the family farm and later moved into a new house on the same farm when she got married and started having children.
They moved to Winston-Salem in 2007. “We had spent our vacations on the North Carolina coast and had friends in Winston-Salem. We just needed a change,” Naomi said.
Natalie was a teenager at the time. Naomi worked a variety of jobs, but also started a food blog mainly devoted to her love of baking.
Natalie eventually got a degree in fashion marketing from the Art Institute of Charlotte. She was working as a buyer for boutiques but wasn’t loving the stress of the job.
Then in 2017, “My mom and I both happened to quit our jobs at the same time. We thought, ‘Let’s think of something we can do together that’s fun,’” Natalie said.
The answer came from Naomi’s blog, in which she was posting photos of what she baked.
“People were asking me where they could get these things,” Naomi said. “And my daughter was like, ‘Mom, you’re already baking every day, why don’t we do something with food?’”
They quickly rented space in Beta Verde’s commercial kitchen and got a vendor spot at Cobblestone.
Baking for Cobblestone began as a temporary summer fling that turned into a full-blown affair. “It just really took off,” Natalie said. “Right away, we had to keep baking more just to keep up with demand.”
The cinnamon rolls were a hit from the beginning, and they continue to be a best-seller. “We would have those growing up. My grandmother made them,” Natalie said. “They were for special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, because they take a lot of work. But they’re worth it.”
The new bakery offers all of the same items that Lavender and Honey’s customers have come to love.
In addition to cinnamon rolls, the bakery sells cakes, pies, cookies, scones and breads. The new location offers a full line of espresso drinks using Counter Culture Coffee of Durham. Kiley Duncan of Tea and Toast in Winston-Salem created some special tea blends for Lavender & Honey that include Black Cherry Rose and Lavender Sage White.
Cookies ($3) include such flavors as lemon-lavender and dark chocolate olive oil.
Pies ($6/slice) often are seasonal — especially when local fruit is available. Recently, the bakery was offering black bottom oat pie with chocolate ganache — a modern take on a Depression-era recipe — and coffee custard pie with a caramel topping.
Cakes ($6/slice) include caramel cake with cookie-butter buttercream icing and a “cure everything” chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream.
Among the selection of scones ($5) are cheddar rosemary, cherry with almond glaze and jalapeno goat cheese.
Other items include sprouted-wheat loaves, sweet quick breads (tea loaves) and protein balls. The latter are dairy-free and gluten-free and recently were made with bee pollen or nutty cherry hempseed.
Soon the bakery expects to offer sourdough bread. And plans call for adding soups and salads for a lunch menu in January, as well as beer and wine.
The Gingeriches also want to use their new space for baking classes and dinner parties when it’s safe to do so.
Right now, they are adjusting to working with large commercial ovens and training a staff of 12. Natalie and Naomi always have shared baking duties. Natalie focuses on the cinnamon rolls and cookies, while Naomi concentrates on cakes and pies.
As they ramp up their operation, though, they often will have to rely on staff members to recreate family recipes as their own job descriptions evolve.
“Natalie’s very good with customers,” Naomi said. “I’m better with the bookkeeping and business decisions. We are learning to trust the baking duties to other people. But we’ll still be back in the kitchen some of the time with our hands in the dough.”