All Good Things Must Crumb to an End
Come Feb. 19 we will be mourning a community institution. Broad Street Bakery & Cafe will be closing its doors after 28 years in downtown Southern Pines.
“It’s bittersweet,” says owner Steve Grasso, “but we’re ready to retire.”
The Grassos have been looking to retire for some time. Unable to find the right person to take over the business, they put the building they’ve owned, at 130 SW Broad St. since 2000, on the market. After nearly a year, it sold.
“When you own a restaurant, you’re married to it,” he says. “There are lots of missed holidays, early wake up times. It’ll be nice to go out to breakfast every once in a while.”
Steve and his wife, Jackie, met at The Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, New York. The two were a batch made in heaven. The couple had dreams of one day opening their own place. They decided to move from Connecticut to Southern Pines after visiting Steve’s parents and being amazed at the slow pace of the small town. They only had their first kid when they moved down but knew this where they wanted to put roots and expand their family.
Shortly after moving to Southern Pines and finding the town had only one bakery, with very limited hours, they decided to take a whisk and put their baking skills to the test.
The business’s first day was Oct., 14 1994, in what is now Betsy’s crepes. Six years later, the couple bought the current location — a former dress shop — and made extensive renovations, installing equipment and converting the downstairs space into their bread- and cake-making rooms.
The space quickly became a second home, where the couple watched their three kids, dozens of employees, and the community grow up.
“It’s all very emotional,” says Jackie, adding that the experience was worth the recession of 2008, power outages, floods, and putting three kids through college. The hard work, both say, was “great to set an example for our kids.”
While reflecting on his memories, Steve shared a laugh with us. “Back in the day, we didn’t use daycares,” Steve says. “We had the kids in the back with a VCR. One day my wife and I were busy helping customers and Emily, who was a toddler, wandered up front and I caught her hollowing out these hard-crust rolls we were famous for, eating the inside and putting them back. Luckily we caught it before serving them.”
Customers, both frequent and sporadic, have added to the bakery’s atmosphere. A Bible study group comes in a couple times a week at 6 a.m. A group of men come in every morning to have coffee and chat. Many others have had their names and orders memorized by the staff and by Jackie and Steve themselves. Jackie feels grateful to have made so many friends in their years of business.
“We’ve had customers buy a loaf of bread, get in the car, loop around Broad Street and come back in for another because their family already ate the first loaf in the two minutes they were in the car,” he says.
The couple is looking forward to the next chapter for themselves and for the corner of downtown Southern Pines they called home for so long. But, Steve says, “I don’t think the realization has fully hit us yet.”
It’s baking our hearts but as Feb. 19 approaches, their menu will shrink as inventory runs out — so order your favorites now. If you need us, we’ll be eating our feelings in the form of their beloved croissants.