Contributor: Brenda McSweeney, Greensboro, Georgia 2012
In 1997, in preparation of his retirement, My husband Jack, and I began making plans to leave Connecticut and move to Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro , Georgia. After many visits to the lake are, we were convinced it was the ideal place to begin this new chapter of our lives. While Jack dreamed of how he would spend his new-found free time, I realized I was not quite ready for retirement. I had owned a successful catering and specialty-baking business in Connecticut named "Creative Cuisine." During our earlier trips to Georgia, I discovered there was nothing like it in the Lake Community where I would soon be living. The thought of offering my special creations to such an open and welcoming Southern public became more and more tempting. Good fortune smiled when I found the perfect location. "Sweet Kneads," my new bakery and cafe, opened February 26, 2002
I was exciting knowing my culinary delights would bring a truly unique experience tot he lake community. You may remember, in 2002, there wasn't even a Publix in the area. Our bakery item included muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies and stuffed breads, to name a few, but one of the biggest hits was our quiche. Unlike Georgia, up North quiche is almost as much of a staple as chowder. I actually had a few customers who said they didn't know what quiche was. I told them that made us even, as I didn't know what hush-puppies were until I moved here.
Our lunch business quickly became and continues to be wonderful. Customers love our homemade soups and sandwich fillings served on our own, freshly baked breads. It always makes me smile when patrons can't resist purchasing a chocolate chip cookie on the way out the door. However, the most popular of our lunchtimes specialties is easily our chicken salad. In the course of a normal week we will sell at least 300 pounds, but during holiday weekends we will sell that much more. I developed this particular recipe myself, and while there are others I'm willing to share, this one remains "top secret."
I find many aspects of the business satisfying, but one of the greatest pleasures of all is when the customers become friends-friends that feel like family. You know there names, their likes and dislikes. You learn where they want to sit, and who they want to wait on them. The staff is so in touch with our regulars, food preparation begins the moment they see certain people pull into the parking lot. Often, a customer's preferred beverage(s) will be waiting at their favorite table by the time they sit down.
For me, the most gratifying part of our business is recognizing I've laid a strong foundation and can feel good about passing the baton to my daughter, Joy Kuper, and my son-in-law, James Kuper. It's wonderful feeling knowing "Sweet Kneads" will continue to grow as I begin to gradually phase myself out of daily operations now that 2012 has rolled around and I'm more ready to join my husband, Jack, in retirement. Joy and James became official partners with me in January 2012. In time, they will be sole owners. That is sweet satisfaction for me and good news the the Lake Oconee community as well.