An exciting new business will soon be opening in Pawling: Sunflour Bakery. The establishment is anxiously finishing final preparations and is looking forward to providing a creative array of sweet treats to Pawling and the surrounding Harlem Valley. Owned by longtime Pawling residents Rob and Elizabeth Carlson, the new bakery will be entirely operated by the couple and their four children in a venture that can be accurately described as “a family affair.”
The story behind Sunflour Bakery began many years ago when Elizabeth Carlson was employed at Baklajava, a bakery formally located at 10 East Main Street in the village. “I started working at Baklajava fourteen years ago when my two youngest were in still in elementary school,” she explains. Working under owner Betsy Ern, Elizabeth began at the bakery as counter help. “Eventually Betsy asked if I wanted to try baking, and then I began cake decorating. She gave me my start – I didn’t know that I had any cake decorating talent,” she adds.
Even at a young age, the Carlson children, Emma, Annie, Ali, and Robbie, were willing to lend a hand as their mother learned her trade. “While I was working there, the kids would take the school bus to the store, and they would help us out,” recalls Elizabeth. “We would get milk cartons for them to stand on, and they would put on little aprons and help do the dishes and measure out ingredients. They were always involved at the store, and got paid in food.”
Following the closure of Baklajava in 2010, Elizabeth continued to hone her craft, selling specialty cakes out of her home. This venture continued for seven years, with most customers coming by word of mouth and through her Facebook page. Meanwhile, husband Rob had been running a successful data center enterprise, ultimately selling the business in 2015. “This year we decided that we were just going to jump into the bakery idea,” says Elizabeth. “Selling that company allowed us to build this one.”
The idea for Sunflour Bakery came from daughter Ali. Explains Rob Carlson: “Ali was the biggest instigator. She thought it was a good opportunity since she had just graduated from URI and could help out, so she started looking for places.” Eventually the family settled on the 2,000-square-foot location at 5 Broad Street in the village. Previously, the location was the site of a printer, a butcher shop, a machine shop, and most recently, a church.
Once the location was decided on, the Carlsons began renovating the space to turn it into a bakery. “The first step was to make the layout for the kitchen, and then Ali and her boyfriend wanted to include space for community events and birthday parties,” says Rob. “We want everyone to be comfortable.”
Renovations began in October, with the building being gutted to allow for the installation of new ceilings, walls, sheet rock and an entirely new layout. The finished product now boasts ample counter space, a coffee bar, a private room in the rear of the store, and plenty of seating for customers. The bakery’s kitchen was outfitted with a doughnut fryer, cake decorating area, blast freezer, and numerous refrigerators and freezers to store baking ingredients. The shop will also allow for outdoor seating in warm weather.
Once Sunflour Bakery is open for business in a few weeks, customers will have an extensive menu to choose from. Offerings will include biscuits, scones, muffins, cookies, doughnuts, cream puffs, macaroons, and brownies. Elizabeth will continue to offer specialty cakes in different sizes for any occasion, including birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. In addition, the business will also be partnering with local merchants to provide vegan and gluten-free options.
Sunflour Bakery will embrace the spirit of local sourcing by offering coffee from the Dutchess Coffee Company in Wingdale. The bakery will also display and sell artwork from local artist Linda Puiatti. Later this month, artist Kellie Cox, renowned for her sunflower mural in Ithaca, NY, will also be visiting Pawling to paint a mural in the business.
The Carlson family is excited to become a part of the local commerce community. “Everyone has been really supportive of us so far,” says Rob. “We have some dear close friends who will help us out, but this is really a family affair. And really, it’s a Pawling thing here.”
For more information and bulletins about the official opening date, visit Facebook @PawlingSunflourBakery.