Emmaus entrepreneur Pam Parker satisfies your senses one snicker doodle at a time.
The doorway wafts the fresh scent of baked snicker doodle cupcakes that lingers long enough to gently tug you into Baked.
There to greet you —by name if she knows you and always with a smile, if not —the Main Street proprietor, Pam Parker whips up fresh conversation and menus daily while her in-house baker and pastry chef, Missy Boehrer, manipulates flour with an artistic ardency.
“If I bring taste here, clearly taste will follow. I just love Emmaus,” Parker said, an elbow lounging comfortably on a rustic table made from recycled old floor boards and discarded metal from Dorney Park.
The Scranton native made Emmaus home 30 years ago, and Parker seems to know what local consumers desire before they realize themselves.
Since the early 1990s, Parker’s owned a handful of businesses in Lehigh Valley and predominantly in Emmaus. First, she saw the need to introduce artisan bread from Philadelphia and New York via her business Bread Brokers, which still operates at Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market. Then she shared her love for upscale home and gardening accessories at Parker Noll on the Triangle.
“It was a really beautiful store when I think about it,” said Parker, recalling the hand-blown glass pieces she once sold.
Several years later, circa 2002, Parker explored her taste for coffee and opened Perk on Main, which she sold within one year. The Perk thrives under a new owner, albeit in a different location at 332 Main St.
“People think owning a coffee shop is just about sitting and having coffee with everybody and, in fact, it’s really hard work,” said Parker, who opened Baked at the same storefront location —228 Main St. —as the Perk’s original site.
Between 2005 and 2006, Parker launched Nincomsoup with a close friend and the charming gift shop, Cottage that is still in full-swing operation on the Triangle at 379 Main Street several years after she sold it. Nincomsoup eventually dissolved, but was a business marriage of technological convenience and Parker’s love for recipes. Customers would order freshly made soups and baked goods from an interactive website that Parker and her business partner would deliver daily by leaving them in a cooler placed outside customers’ homes.
“We were like Lucy and Ethel delivering soup. We laughed a lot,” Parker said, 57, of her Nincomsoup days.
But Baked, situated in the same building where another bakery once stood 80 years ago, is where Parker said her passion truly lies. She explained that her love for baked good evolved as a latch-key teenager when she would while away evenings trying out recipes while her nurse mother and “blue-collar” father worked late nights. In hindsight, Paker said, she most certainly would have pursued culinary school had she realized it was an educational option for her.
Now a baker’s dream, Baked features an organic garden, vegan and gluten-free products and an irony since pastry chef Boehrer (trained at Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts) and Parker (entirely “self-taught”) strive hard to create healthy desserts. These include banana bran muffins, applesauce spice muffins, oatmeal with apples and almonds, savory tarts, chopped salads, and, yes, the oxymoronically named Health Nut cookie, among other delectables.
When asked what motivates her to delve into so many small businesses, Parker instantly wore her heart on her sleeve.
“She was a beautiful baby girl. Perfect,” said Parker. Casting aside a somber tone, Parker instead proudly explained, like any mother would, that while her daughter, Ally, manifests Parker’s ideas, her inspiration derives from the loss of her second daughter, Olivia, more than one decade ago. Olivia died at Lehigh Valley Hospital just six days after her birth to Parker and her husband, Tom due to complications.
“I do not use this term loosely, but (operating businesses) is my version of ‘retail therapy,’” she said. And in the end, she added, she loves to learn and challenge herself with each venture, which is why each store has been so different.
Perhaps the decorative plaques on the walls summarize Parker’s motivation well.
“Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe and learn,” reads one. The other: “Begin doing what you want to do now.”