Pennies may fall from heaven, but it’s a safe bet that the skies over Hammondsport have never rained down the copper coins as perfectly as have the owners of the new Keuka Bakery Company.
In the front of the new café at 49 Shethar Street, the floor is adorned with pennies, thousands of them. They float under a sheen of clear coat and, in the center, rests Keuka Lake, glimmering in a perfect depiction of silvery nickels. That eye-catching use of coins took two people a full week to inlay, coin by coin, and sealed forever the fate of some 22,000 pennies and 200 nickels.
Lynn Sissan and her significant other, Doug Nichols (hence the “nickels” that connote the lake), wanted to make a statement with that opening space in the new Keuka Bakery on Shethar Street in Hammondsport. They live on the lake and wanted to pay homage to the beauty of the area and the significance of that body of water. Nearly everyone who comes in the door comes to a halt to admire the monetary masterpiece. It is just one of the conversation-starting aspects of the bakery’s look. Doug operates Nichols Marina and Restoration, so much of the nautical creativity is his. But it is Lynn who has found herself saying, “Don’t throw that out. I can use that.”
Though only open since Memorial Day weekend, the Keuka Bakery Company, open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., already has the welcoming feel of an established restaurant. The marriage of food and decoration is everywhere, from the lights made of cheese graters and funnels to the section of an Old Towne canoe holding wine bottles. (For décor only. No wine with the donuts!) Wringer washing machines act as table bases.
“We saw some interesting things that other people were doing in their shops,” Lynn said. “We borrowed from some, changed others, and really let our imagination wander about what was possible and would look right in our space.”
Lynn’s resume includes baking, as she worked for Dunkin’ Donuts for a time, but she has never before owned a bakery. “The former owners retired and there was a sudden opportunity.” Her goal was to create an atmosphere for intimacy. “I was looking for a feeling of comfort. A true ‘catching up over coffee’ sort of place.”
The seating is varied and offers different angles depending on customer mood. If talking is a primary purpose, tables in the center provide face-to-face seating to hash out the problems of the world. If people watching is in order, the tables near the windows bathe you in sunshine and allow for spectating onto the street and the verdant Hammondsport Square.
But the visual feast is only the palate cleanser. Baking begins at 5 a.m. under the watchful eye of Alfred University graduate Heaven Krieger. Muffins, elephant ears, and Danish fill the air with an aroma that makes you think of laid-back Sunday mornings. Customers have dubbed the iced croissants “ingenious” and “insanely good.” Fresh bread is a daily happening. Coffee lovers will find a brew for every taste, from fancy flavors to a classic cup of good Joe.
While bakeries and breakfast go together like toast and butter, missing out on the lunch and early dinner offerings would be a mistake. Recent sandwich specials include roast beef on olive oil rosemary bread with lettuce, tomato, and white truffle mayo. It’s enough to make peanut butter and jelly crawl back into the brown bag. Abundant seasonal strawberries inspired fresh baked Angel Food Cake with a mound of perfect berries and whipped cream. With grilling season in full swing, a bag of fresh hamburger and hot dog rolls is the perfect grab on the way home.
Lynn is grateful for the reception her new business has received. “It’s been excellent.” She said. “Both residents and visitors have been very complimentary and supportive. We already have repeat customers!”
Go back to the cascade of coins on the floor for a moment. About halfway up the west coast of the lake, do you see the gold coin? For all her love of Hammondsport, that circle of glitter represents Lynn’s favorite place in all of the world—home.