BOUNTIFUL — It all started years ago, a sweet addition to the small town of Richfield shortly after the end of World War II. Since their early pastry successes, Parsons Bakery has expanded to Bountiful, where it continues to thrive in sticky sweetness.
Mike Parsons, owner of the second-generation bakery, located at 535 W. 2600 South in Bountiful, opened the store in 1985, 40 years after his father established the original bakery in Richfield.
Parsons mastered the art of baking delectable treats after years of working after school with his dad at the bakery. He continues to use many of those same baking methods and recipes in his own store in Bountiful.
"I learned it all from my dad," he said.
While the Bountiful store continues to make many of the same cookies and cakes as the Richfield bakery, people in Bountiful generally request different treats than their rural counterparts, he said. In Richfield, pies and breads took center stage, while cookies and cakes get most of the attention in Bountiful.
Many of the recipes have been used since the early days of the bakery, some of which were borrowed from friends and neighbors in Richfield. When a neighbor brought over a batch of cookies to share with the Parsons family, his dad would ask for a copy of the recipe and then incorporate it into the daily offerings at the store, Parsons said.
Those hometown neighbors are also Parsons' biggest competitors, he said. Instead of focusing on beating out rival bakeries for customers, Parsons' goal is to get busy moms to buy from his bakery instead of spending the time to bake things themselves.
"I'm trying to run my business like I'm competing against mom," he said.
And like mom, Parsons works hard to make sure the doughnuts are fresh and the bread comes straight from the oven each morning. To guarantee that the food will be ready to go when the store opens at 7 a.m., Parsons wakes up bright and early to start those cookies and doughnuts by 4 a.m.
"That time of the morning is never fun," Parsons said.
It takes many hours to prepare the cookies, roll out the cinnamon rolls and bake the cakes that will soon fill the stomachs of hungry customers, but once customers start rolling into the parking lot, the focus shifts from preparing the goodies to selling them to the hungry masses.
Parsons routinely sees the same people come in every morning, buying their favorite batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or glazed doughnuts on the way to work. In fact, some of those "regulars" have been buying the same treats they've bought for 20 years.
"Thank goodness people are creatures of habit, because that's what keeps me in business," Parsons said.
The most popular items in the bakery often depend on the day, Parsons said, but the specialty cookies are usually a big hit. On any given day, the bakery will sell between 50 and 80 dozen cookies. It makes 13 different kinds of cookies, including five variations on the classic chocolate chip. The most popular of the chocolate cookies is the parfait, which has large, candy bar-like chocolate chunks mixed throughout the cookie.
"Chocolate is the driving motivation," Parsons said.
Besides working hard to satisfy those ever-present chocolate cravings, Parsons keeps baking quality treats for customers who might be harder to please, something he takes as a challenge for his skills.
"I'm searching for the customer who wants something special, not just something sweet," he said. "When it comes down to it, baking is one of those things you treat yourself to."
Running a bakery is an art for Parsons, more than simply selling pastries. What separates Parsons from the competition is the quality of the ingredients they use and the care they take to bake them fresh each day, he said.
"It's not just pulling things out of a box and marketing them," Parsons said.
Through the many years cake decorator Kim Fuehrer has worked at the bakery, she has seen many people come in who have been surprised at the high quality of the goodies Parsons sells. Many of them come in expecting it to be the same as something they would buy at a grocery store bakery.
"I'm not ashamed of the product because it's good," she said.
Other employees agree that the quality of the product they sell makes Parsons a wonderful bakery and is one of the many benefits of working there.
"It's a fun place to work," said Judy Parkin, who has worked at the bakery for seven years. "It kills your diet, but it's fun. You could go somewhere else and earn more money, but you wouldn't want to."