‘Keep on keeping on’: Church Hill bakery determined to stay open

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Starting a new business can be tough for anyone, let alone navigating through a pandemic, but JJ’s Makery is working to keep customers coming through the doors.

“We have a lot of repeat customers. Being a new business, and especially during a time when people aren’t going out, we get people in and they come back, but it’s just getting people in, to begin with,” said Manager Kat Moore. “That’s been the biggest struggle, not being well-known enough and not having the start-up capital that a lot of places have.”

Owner Jessie Williams has more than a decade of experience as a baker and cake decorator, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to move into the building on the corner of North 27th and Marshall Streets in Oct. 2020.

“We had three months to get everything set up and get started,” she said. “We are kind of flying by the seat of our pants.”

They relied on community fundraising to get started and admit that the last few months have been tough.

“Our business has had some predictable troubles, having started in October 2020 on a wing and a prayer after an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity fell in our laps, and we had to take a chance on it. We have persevered, so far, but things are catching up,” Williams wrote in an online fundraiser. “We’re having a hard time, y’all, and we haven’t been in business long enough to qualify for a “real” loan.”

Moore and Williams were surprised Saturday when the support for the business was evident after the fundraiser was posted.

“I guess everyone felt called to come and support us. Saturday was our best day since Christmas Eve,” she said. “It is really heartening.”

Moore and Williams say the JJ’s Makery bread, eclairs and kouign-amann’s are among their favorite items. Though the menu is small, JJ’s Makery pride’s itself in having quality baked goods

“We are here and we are sharing what we love to do. We want people to enjoy it and come back,” said Williams.

JJ’s Makery is also finding ways to serve the community; they donate leftover food and have a goal of setting up a community pantry as they continue to grow.

“We have our pay it forward program, where someone can come in and pay for a loaf of bread for someone else,” said Moore. “Anything that allows us to better serve the community that has been good to us. If we can stick it out and make this work, we can do something good for the community in turn.”

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