For Amanda Mallon, going to work each day at Amanda’s Bakery & Cafe is like going home.
Mallon has owned and operated the restaurant at 702 Commercial St. for the past 10 years.
“I am celebrating my 10-year anniversary this month,” she said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already. Business has been good; I’ve really enjoyed it here.”
Mallon said she loves baking and got into cooking when she was in middle school.
“I was a vegetarian back then,” she laughed. “I would try to find different things to make since I was a vegetarian. I wasn’t a very good cook back then, but my grandma was. I always loved helping her in the kitchen because she always made cooking fun.
“She and my mom both loved baking homemade bread. My aunt also gave me a vegetarian cookbook and a bread book. I think I developed my love for cooking and baking from them, especially my grandma.”
That love of cooking and baking led Mallon to have the goal of one day owning her own restaurant.
“I always wanted to have my own bakery,” she said. “It seems I’ve always been in the restaurant business or involved with food service. I worked baking bread at Three Fool’s Cafe back when it was in business. When it closed, my dad told me that I should take the leap and open my own bakery. He told me, ‘You know, you could do that!’ I didn’t know how to go about owning my own business, but he said he would help me and he did.”
Amanda’s offers its customers made-from-scratch bread and cinnamon rolls daily. Mallon uses only fresh ingredients to make the soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts she serves.
“I based my initial ideas from what we did at Three Fool’s,” she said. “It worked because they had a lot of regulars who came back again and again. I believe they had a good concept, so I added new ideas to that.”
Mallon initially opened in the Kress Center. She has been in the same location ever since.
“I didn’t see myself doing this for a long period of time,” she said. “In the beginning, when I was thinking of opening, I always saw myself doing more sweets and bakery goods, not necessarily the deli items. When I introduced them it worked, so it was good.”
For all its success, Mallon said the restaurant business has its share of ups and downs.
“It was really hard at first since I was used to simply working in a restaurant,” she said. “Owning my own, there were more responsibilities and so much to learn. We were all new, so the first few years were a learning experience. It’s become easier over time, and I have loved owning my own business.”
Mallon said the secret to her success isn’t any one thing, but simply wholesome food and great customer service.
“I do think people come for the homemade bread and the cinnamon rolls,” she said. “They are our most popular items. Our homemade soups go over well, too. We also have salads, which are a healthier option. It’s hard when you eat out to not feel guilty about it. We do serve whole grain bread and fresh food with no preservatives for the most part. We love serving our soup of the day. Right now, since it’s fall, I want to invite everyone in to try it. We feature a different soup each day.”
Mallon said much of the success of Amanda’s 10 years in business is due to her employees.
“I’ve always had really great employees,” she said. “I’ve had some great college kids work for me over the years. It’s fun to get to know them and work with them. When they graduate, they leave and move away, which is sad. We become family, so it makes for a great working environment.”
Amanda’s also offers catering, plus a unique and decadent dessert each Friday.
“We have a lot of regulars who come in, and that’s really nice,” Mallon said. “They have been very loyal, and I love seeing them when they come in. It makes me feel really good to know people love coming to my restaurant and love eating here.
“I would have to say our cinnamon rolls are the best item on our menu. Everyone loves them. I like the brownies the best, but then again, I love chocolate.”
Amanda’s Bakery & Cafe is open from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesday - Friday and from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 340-0620 or visit online amandasbakeryandcafe.com. The Facebook page is www.facebook.com/AmandasBakeryandCafe.
Mallon said Emporia has been good to her, and she loves being a part of downtown Emporia.
“It’s great to be a part of a thriving main street,” she said. “I really enjoy being here in the Kress Building and in downtown Emporia. I love doing what I do every day. I love seeing my regulars and love seeing new faces.
“The Kress Center is a really neat building. It’s become my second home — really more like my first. I am so grateful for all of my loyal customers. Emporia is a really great community, with friendly, caring people. Amanda’s wouldn’t be what it is today without my great customers.”