BY MARY WICOFF
Larry Beckley of Danville made his daughter an offer she couldn’t refuse: Move to Danville and she could have her own bakery.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Brittany Beckley, 22, said. “I never thought it would happen.”
The result is Jean’s Upper Crust Bakery at 212 W. Fairchild St., named after Jean Beckley, 80, who is Larry’s mother and Brittany’s grandmother.
The three Beckleys and two employees, assistant manager Virginia Taflinger and Carmen Whorrall, have been busy since the bakery opened last week. Freshly baked cookies, cupcakes, pies, sweet rolls, brownies and other goodies fill the display cases. In addition, the business offers sandwiches and soup.
The idea for a bakery stemmed from Jean’s love of baking, and Larry’s desire to see his daughter, who was living in North Carolina.
Brittany said her dad kept asking her to move, but she wouldn’t. She had spent the past three years baking gourmet cakes and cupcakes at a store in North Carolina, adding, “It’s something I’m passionate about.”
Finally, Larry said he would open a bakery if she moved here; in February, he called and said he had found a building. That’s when Brittany agreed to become co-owner.
Larry also thought it would be a good way to tap into the years of baking knowledge in his mother’s head.
Jean works four hours a day at the bakery, and shares her knowledge — and secret recipes — with the others. Her recipe for pie crust is typed on a faded piece of paper, protected by plastic. She also has a book full of recipes, dating back through the years.
“I love it,” Jean said of her job. “I wish I were 10 years younger.”
Jean used to bake for the Danville Country Club and for Donnie’s sandwich shop, and also baked at home, until the city told her she couldn’t do that. However, she could take special orders and bake those at home.
She also sold baked goods at Gordyville, and people would stand in line for the food, she said.
The iced cherry and apple pie squares are the most popular items at the bakery, she said, as well as the cinnamon and pecan rolls. One day this week, she had an apple coffeecake ring and a derby pie waiting for customers.
Everything is made from scratch, including the pepperoni rolls with pepperoni and cheese folded into dough. Besides the usual sweets, the bakery offers fudge, caramels, mini loaves of sweet bread, cream puffs and specialty pies.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until everything sells out. The sandwiches include Peyton’s barbecue and chicken salad on a croissant, and the soups include potato, broccoli, bean, noodle and Larry’s “famous chili” with black beans. The selections vary from day to day.
A lunch meal consists of a sandwich, bowl of soup and dessert (two cookies, a brownie or a pie square) for $5.50.
The bakery also uses produce and fruit from Larry’s farm in Alvin. Organically grown apples and rhubarb, for example, are used in the pies, and the zucchini ends up in bread.
“We’ll use everything we can,” Larry said.
In two or three weeks, he expects to sell corn at $1 an ear through the summer and hopes to get permission to sell his produce, as well.
Jean and Larry said there’s a need for a full-service bakery in Danville. Brittany will bake specialty cakes for weddings, birthdays and other occasions.
Larry said he had to gut the building, which is located between Franklin and Oak, on the south side, and which may have housed an insurance company at one time.
Jean’s Upper Crust Bakery is located at 212 W. Fairchild. It’s closed Sundays and Mondays.
To place an order for a special occasion, such as a wedding or birthday, call 442-0277.
Lunches will be delivered to a business if at least 10 people place orders.