Eats: A dream come true — Annabella’s Bakery and Cafe in Richmond

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Tucked away in a corner of Richmond overlooking the Kennebec River is a cozy hometown eatery known as Annabella’s Bakery and Cafe. It’s a family business owned and operated by Barbara Bowley and her daughter Stacy LaBombard.

For many years, Bowley dreamed of having her own business. She had earned a business degree and spent 21 years working for Downeast Energy in Brunswick, but then, one day, she decided the time had come to launch out on her own.

“I left my job at Downeast Energy to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening a cafe and bakery,” said Bowley. “I grew up in a family of seven and I always loved to bake.”

Bowley said her daughter also loves to cook and has worked in restaurants for many years. Prior to opening the cafe, she worked at Montsweag Roadhouse in Woolwich.

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“Stacy does the cooking and I help with the baking,” said Bowley. “I help with the morning pastries and really like to be creative with the muffins. We make blueberry, raspberry walnut, coconut pecan, sweet potato and pumpkin muffins.”

The mother-daughter team leased the building in Richmond in February 2011, spent three months getting it ready, and opened in June.

The name has its roots in Bowley’s middle name, Ann, and the two owners’ desire to call it something unique.

The restaurant is set up with an open-floor design because Bowley and LaBombard wanted to create a warm, homey feeling. There’s a small lunch counter and tables scattered throughout. Walls are decorated with dragonflies — the cafe’s logo — and old photos. And an old-fashioned cook stove just inside the front door adds to the homey feel of the restaurant.

Bowley said that mealtime was always very important in her family growing up. She said siblings returned to their parents’ home even after they were married for Sunday dinners.

“It was the center of the family,” she said. “We wanted to have that same comfortable family feeling in the restaurant.”

About 30 percent of the business’s sales are from the bakery, with the remaining 70 percent from the cafe — and almost all the food sold is homemade. Some items are from family recipes. Bowley’s sister, fondly referred to as “Aunt Pam,” does most of the baking. They make all of the bread for their sandwiches and French toast, except for the rye. They also make a homemade seasoning salt that they use on their home fries, and raise their own tarragon and basil, which is used on the sandwiches.

Stuffed French toast highlights their menu for breakfast, which is served from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and all day long on weekends. It’s a best-seller, made with two pieces of French toast stuffed with a raspberry cream cheese filling and topped with powdered sugar and fresh raspberries.

Another special on the breakfast menu is the Farmer’s Breakfast, named after Bowley’s father, Royal Farmer, who died before the restaurant opened: three eggs made to order, home fries, bacon, sausage and toast of your choice. Homemade biscuits with sausage gravy is also a favorite of many customers.

For lunch, the menu is full of soups, salads and sandwiches. Bowley said some of their most popular items are the Reuben sandwich (made with fresh sauerkraut and house-made corned beef), the tarragon chicken salad sandwich (on homemade rosemary bread), the BLT (with apple wood-smoked bacon) and the turkey BLT (with basil mayo). Customers can choose from white, wheat, rosemary, oatmeal and rye bread for their sandwich.

Bakery items include mouth watering specialty breads, including apple bread; jalapeno cheddar bread; spinach, ham and cheddar bread; and Mediterranean bread. They also sell homemade dinner rolls, blueberry and raspberry scones, eclairs, cream puffs, Aunt Pam’s sticky buns, an assortment of homemade cookies, muffins and whoopie pies.

“The filling for the whoopie pies is actually the recipe that my mother used when we were growing up,” Bowley said.

Special orders can be made for pies, rolls and dessert platters for the holidays or other special occasions, as well as for simple birthday cakes.

Annabella’s buttermilk blueberry muffins

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/2 cup melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (they use Wyman frozen Maine blueberries, lightly floured)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat together first 5 ingredients.

Combine dry ingredients.

Add to wet ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes.

Annabella’s Bakery & Cafe

2 Main St., Richmond

Tuesday-Saturday 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Sunday: 6:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.; closed Monday

737-7165

www.annabellas.me

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