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Essay prize sweetened

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The owner of a Payson bakery who's giving away his shop to a lucky essay writer is sweetening the deal.

The winner of the essay contest will not only get Roe's Bake Shoppe along Main Street in this community of about 16,000 residents, but also the adjoining historic building and $5,000 to start the business.

"They belong together, they really do," said Paul Penrod, owner of Roe's Bake Shoppe.

Penrod and his wife, Lolly, bought the 60-year-old bakery with its brick facade, high ceilings and oak floors in 2002 and remodeled it. But the stress of full-time baking wasn't what they expected, so they decided to sell it. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the couple settled on the more unconventional approach.

Contestants will write an essay of less than 300 words, titled, "Why I want to own Roe's Bake Shoppe." The essays, which must be accompanied by a $100 entry fee, will be judged by a panel of 25 downtown merchants.

The contest has only generated about 100 entries since April, far short of the 2,000 entries the couple hoped for. Penrod estimates that if they receive at least that many, they'll be able to pay off their loans.

The building that adjoins the bakery was built in the late 1800s and doubles as a deli in the front and an unfinished furniture shop in the back.

"Most people think it's all one building, but it's actually two buildings," Penrod said.

The bakery owner says he expects most of the entries to roll in within the last two weeks before the contest's July 1 deadline.