N.C. Bakery Going Strong After 81 Years

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Amy Macdonald's passion for Dewey's Bakery cakes is mirrored in her three children. "My daughter Megan is 7 years old," Macdonald said recently at the Dewey's Bakery at Thruway Shopping Center, where she was buying pink lemonade cake squares. "She is counting the days until she can work here.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Amy Macdonald's passion for Dewey's Bakery cakes is mirrored in her three children.

"My daughter Megan is 7 years old," Macdonald said recently at the Dewey's Bakery at Thruway Shopping Center, where she was buying pink lemonade cake squares. "She is counting the days until she can work here. She talks about it all the time."

It's a special treat for Macdonald, who has been a Dewey's customer for more than 35 years, to visit the store with her daughter and twin sons, Brody and Ryan, who are 6.

After tests showed a year ago that Brody didn't have an egg allergy, Dewey's was the first place he went.

"I let him get every cake square he wanted," Macdonald said. "I think he got about three or four."

Dewey's has been baking goods in its hometown of Winston-Salem for 81 years, growing from one downtown store into a company that does business around the world.

"Since its beginnings as a small retail bakery in downtown Winston-Salem in 1930, Dewey's has a legacy of making unique products with incredible history, like Moravian Sugar Cakes, Moravian Cookies and many others," said Brooke Smith, president of Dewey's. "Today, we still honor those baking traditions and are fortunate to not only have expanded within the Winston-Salem community, but also to sell our products in many of the finest specialty stores around the country and in some international markets."

The company's transformation has involved adding new kinds of stores and different products.

The company opened Dewey's Wedding Cake Boutique, which is by appointment, behind its headquarters on South Cherry Street in 2008. This year, the company opened a new-concept store called CAKE By Dewey's in Hanes Mall.

Whereas its other stores sell fresh-baked items from breads to cookies, "CAKE is all things cake," Smith said. "It's not just birthday cakes and special occasion cakes and special orders, but it's cake squares and cupcakes and sugar cakes and coffee cakes."

Dewey's has four regular locations in the city, but will soon roll out about 20 temporary holiday stores. Dewey's has signed leases at Oak Summit Shopping Center off Hanes Mill Road, on River Ridge Road in Clemmons, at Southside Square in Kernersville, at Parkway Village Shoppes off Peters Creek Parkway near Walmart, and will have a kiosk in Hanes Mall. The company will list all the stores on its website by Tuesday.

Company officials declined to give exact sales figures, but Smith said sales have grown year-over-year for the past few years.

"Our retail stores have continued to see substantial growth even in this economy," she said.

She credits loyal customers for part of the reason Dewey's has been successful.

The company has also added new products and tried to open its brands and stores to new customers.

"Winston-Salem has changed and grown over the years, so a lot of people have moved here that didn't grow up with Dewey's and haven't known our brand for as long," Smith said.

Michelle Schenker, Dewey's vice president of marketing, thinks the company keeps growing because it is a homegrown business.

"Our community really has embraced us for staying true to who we are and for embracing the fact that we are a local business," Schenker said. "I think they want to shop local."

Dewey G. Wilkerson opened the fresh retail bakery in 1930 during the Great Depression. When housewives ordered cakes during the days of war rationing in the 1940s, they had to bring in 1 cup of sugar. The commodity was that scarce.

When a fire destroyed the bakery on Easter Monday in 1955, production was back up in two days thanks to the people in the community who provided temporary space and baking facilities.

Dewey's formed Salem Baking Co. in 1992 to distribute its products nationally. For the past 15 years, the division has sold as a wholesale brand throughout the country to retailers, including Williams-Sonoma, Fresh Market, independent gift shops and specialty stores.

Moravian Sugar Cake, Dewey's most-popular product, is shipped all over the world.

"People know it best here in Winston-Salem, but it has a following from people who have encountered it for many reasons along the way who have just made it their own tradition," she said.

The fourth quarter is the company's biggest and busiest time of the year because of the holidays.

"We make sugar cake 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the fourth quarter to keep up," Smith said. "There is always someone baking."

Ownership of the company started changing in 2006 when Scott Livengood, a former chief executive for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., took a 50 percent stake in Dewey's Bakery. Livengood and his wife, Michelle, acquired full ownership of Dewey's in April.

"Like so many people in the Winston-Salem community, I grew up with Dewey's and have been a lifelong customer," Livengood said. "I appreciate the role Dewey's has played - and continues to play - in the special times and in the lives of so many generations of local families. Today, Dewey's continues its strong commitment to heritage recipes and products like Moravian Sugar Cake, classic pastries and breakfast treats, fresh-baked breads and traditional cake styles."

Dewey's has three pastry chefs: Katy Hites, Alison Turner and Alison Shermeta.

Livengood said these chefs are still creating innovative treats, flavors and designs to expand the company's offerings and to meet the changing needs and interests of its customers.

Customers said they typically shop for themselves and others when they go to Dewey's.

Barbara Parker and her husband, George "Buck" Parker, were in the Dewey's at Thruway last week, getting cheese straws for family members in Colerain in Bertie County and Moravian Cookies for a friend in Ahoskie in Hertford County.

Before the couple moved from Blowing Rock to Advance in 2006 to be near their daughter, Terri Jones of Clemmons, they would always stop at Dewey's and buy Grandpa Coffee Cake to take to a Sunday school class at Laurel Fork Baptist Church.

"It's so good, it's sinful," Buck Parker said jokingly.

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