By Emily Klingman
There’s a new kid in town, and she is getting a lot of attention with her sweet treats.
Joanne Canady-Browne, owner and lead baker of The Gingered Peach, moved her bakery from Ewing to Lawrenceville in Dec. 2014, and with the new school year, the bakery is gaining hype.
“We needed to expand, and I just couldn’t find anywhere to go in Ewing that had the right space but still was within a high enough traffic area that I can bring in new clients,” said Canady-Browne. “This just happened to work out really well where, ‘Oh, it’s in a great location, space that we need, and the rent is affordable; we’re going to make the move.’”
The move to Lawrenceville also continues the town’s tradition of housing a bakery on Main Street. The Village Bakery, which is where The Gingered Peach is now, had been passed along through several different owners before closing in 2012. According to Canady-Browne, there had been a bakery in that exact location for the past 50 years. But with the introduction of The Gingered Peach, there comes a time for change.
“We are the first bakery to come in here and change the name, completely renovate and not carry the products the old bakeries carried,” she said.
Canady-Browne got her start in baking after going to Rutgers and entering the corporate world with an MBA in marketing. Eventually, she discovered how much the field was not for her.
“I just decided that I was not going to let someone determine whether or not I was going to work,” said Canady-Browne. “If there was going to be a failure, it was going to be my own.”
From there, her decision to turn to baking was easy.
“I didn’t go to pastry school, but I had exposure at home – I grew up in a house of baking,” she said. “I knew how to make a cake, I knew how to make biscuits, but for the more complicated like croissants and stuff, I bought a textbook and taught myself.”
It was after her initial jump into the baking world that she met her second-in-command baker, Althea Marr.
“Initially I was an intern, looking to get some experience out of culinary school,” said Marr. “Joanne took me on, working at her original shop location in Ewing. Over the years I’ve reconnected with her, and this year I was looking for a job and Joanne had an opening.”
For Marr, her first exposure to baking was similar to Canady-Browne. Baking was a large aspect of her home life and eventually she determined “it was something I enjoyed doing so I decided to pursue it as a career.”
Canady-Browne’s success as a baker and as an entrepreneur is clear at the end of every workday when most of the products have sold out.
“Every weekday we start with 160 cupcakes, and weekends we go into 300,” said Canady-Browne. “We aren’t a bakery that carries products into the next day. We sell it that day; if we don’t sell it, it goes to the Trenton soup kitchen.”
With all of the success The Gingered Peach has encountered, there have been some challenges along the way. Many of the products sold, like a bun called the “sticky piggy” that is made with bacon, raisins and sticky sauce, are not typically found in bakeries. When the bakery first moved to Lawrenceville, many customers were hesitant about trying its products.
“When everybody thinks of a bakery, they think of the bakery your grandparents went to, this kind of old, stuck-in-its-ways kind of bakery,” she said. “When we opened, everything we made was so unfamiliar to everyone here that they just said, ‘I don’t think I want to eat that.’”
With all of the doubt its products received at first, Marr said “definitely seeing customers enjoying the food that we make” is the best part of her job.
“It’s always great to know that we made a really nice batch of cookies or brownies or cinnamon buns or something,” she said.
Canady-Browne believes what will make Rider students interested is how different and unique The Gingered Peach is.
“What makes us appealing is that we make things you want to eat,” she said. “Modern twists: that’s what we do, that’s what makes us appealing. Our average consumer is like, ‘What is that, that’s weird!’ and we just say, ‘No, it’s different.’”
Marr agrees that the differences between them and classic bakeries put The Gingered Peach ahead of the others.
“We have a more Southern homestyle sort of baking, and we do everything from scratch,” she said. “It’s made fresh daily, and it’s a little bit of stuff you’ve seen before like brownies, but with our own special twist on it.”
The best part of owning The Gingered Peach for Canady-Browne is the freedom to run the business the way she wants to.
“If I want to make a salted caramel apple cupcake, I don’t have to ask anyone, I can just do it,” she said. “If there’s a system in place that’s not working, I can change it. If there’s an employee that’s doing an awesome job, I can reward them. If there’s a product customers want to see us carry, I can make it.”
Printed in the 12/02/15 edition.