By Gretchen Wing
Special to the Weekly
When Stephanie Smith bought the famous Holly B’s Bakery in its 40th year, many aficionados were anxious about the future of this beloved institution. Now in October with Stephanie planning to remain open through December, Holly B’s customers have subsided into blissful relief. “Love and Butter” is here to stay on Lopez, traditional treats sharing counter space with delectable innovations.
Holly B’s flagship cinnamon rolls and almond butter horns still rule the roost, supported by flaky croissants, crusty baguettes, and outrageous fruit Danish. But new items vying for queen of this edible popularity contest include succulent hand pies, airy meringues, and the salted dark chocolate chip cookie. With a background in French pastry and catering, Smith is entranced by possibility. She loves taking advantage of local fruit to create goodies like plum-cardamom scones but also branching out to embrace more exotic treats, such as tiny passion fruit curd tarts with hibiscus sugar.
Moving from Kirkland to Lopez to run a bakery was a huge shift for Stephanie, and one of the biggest surprises was how welcomed she felt. “I have never felt alone in this endeavor,” says Stephanie. “The support of the staff and the faithful customers is impressive. I don’t think I can say thank you enough.”
Like the baked goods, Stephanie’s staff is a mix of continuity and change. At the counter, Diana Sherwood is entering her third decade of greeting customers with smiles and conversation, while bakers Laura Strom and Gretchen Wing happily churn out pastries and bread in the kitchen they’ve known for many seasons. Versatile Hayley Taylor also returns from last year, equally at home helping customers or mixing ingredients. A surprise to Stephanie has been her positive experience with the teenagers she’s hired. “Honestly, I didn’t have the best impression of teen employees prior to coming here,” says Stephanie, “But the young adults that I’ve had the pleasure of working with on Lopez have been very motivated, always looking to learn more.”
Another pleasant surprise, coming from the high-stress world of catering for Microsoft, has been how smoothly Stephanie’s first year has gone.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve lived through a July Fourth weekend at Holly B’s!” she laughs, adding, “Thankfully, there haven’t been any unpleasant surprises—other than when I forgot to order butter and eggs for July Fourth.” The line stretching from the bakery to Lopez Bookshop that day told Stephanie all she needed to know about her role on Lopez.
Several of Stephanie’s managerial changes have also been greeted with joy by customers. Holly B’s opened in mid-March this year and will remain open Saturdays and Sundays in December, even taking special orders from a limited menu prior to Christmas. Holly B’s breads and sweet treats are now available at Lopez Coffee Shop, even on the bakery’s closed days (currently Monday through Thursday). And through November, Stephanie has instituted Fika [feeka] Fridays at Holly B’s. “Fika is Swedish for ‘cozy afternoon tea,’” Stephanie explains, “so Fika Fridays mean, ‘it’s been a long week—come treat yourself to something special.”