Baking partners cook up a cooperative kitchen
By TAD SOOTER
North Kitsap Herald North End Reporter
February 19, 2010 · 11:05 AM
What began as a kitchen in a garage eight years ago has become a story of sweet success.
Nicole Matheson started Mirracole Morsels bakery in 2002 as a way to stay home with her children and pay the bills. Today it’s a regional distribution company, spreading Matheson’s granola and cookies in stores from Poulsbo to Bellingham.
It turned out she had more to share.
In a new cooperative kitchen in the old Kingston Hotel, Matheson is giving other bakers an option she never had — the chance to test their wares without taking the full plunge into a new business. Mirracole Morsels employee and bread baker Lacey Menne has already started her own business — Borrowed Kitchen Bakery — as the first member of the cooperative.
“I have an opportunity to let people test out their products without spending a ton of money,” Matheson said. “It seems like a blessing to me to be able to do that.”
Mirracole Morsels began in a more modest setting.
As a single parent of two children, Matheson was looking for a way to work from home. She was already a self-taught cook who enjoyed making gift bags of chunky granola. Friends and family encouraged her to pursue baking as a profession. Matheson tried peddling her granola at farmers markets in Kingston and Poulsbo, and caught the attention of Central Market buyers, who added her granola to their bulk food section.
She rented kitchen space briefly before deciding to build a kitchen in the garage of her Suquamish home. The business blossomed from there.
Matheson has expanded her repertoire to include cookies, trail mix muffins and even dog biscuits, and she sells to Central Market and Haggen Foods stores along a handful of other grocers. She still uses her Suquamish kitchen for baking a line of gluten-free food.
Matheson’s wholesale business has given her the stability to launch a retail business. For that she chose the downstairs of the Old Kingston Hotel, which has an open floor, inviting entrance and a view of the ferry terminal and Puget Sound.
“It’s amazing; it’s an amazing space,” Matheson said. “I’d seen this for a while sitting all alone, thinking it was a great place for a bakery.”
Menne is exploring new creative space, as she branches out with her own business. Her Borrowed Kitchen Bakery offering includes artisan bread, croissants, focaccia, baguettes and rolls.
Having found a market for her bread at farmers markets, Menne was eager to try out her business in the shared kitchen.
“I didn’t have to go buy an oven, go buy the tables and rent a space,” Menne said.
Matheson and Menne hope to bring a variety of bakers to the Old Kingston Hotel. Cooperative members will share the kitchen and retail space, but they’ll need their own licenses and will handle their own branding and distribution.
Matheson and Menne plan to build the cooperative with care, making sure each new ingredient blends with the mix.
“We’re going to be the business that will be here in 10 years,” Matheson said.Contact North Kitsap Herald North End Reporter Tad Sooter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-779-4464.