LISBON — Nick Benoit said he wanted to fill a need in the community. He wanted to open in time for Thanksgiving. And he wanted to do it while he was still 25.
He did it.
Benoit, who turns 26 the day after Thanksgiving, opened Benoit’s Bakery & Wine Cellar this week in space behind Benoit’s Farm Stand on outer Lisbon Street.
At a soft opening Wednesday night, “we had just under 300 people come through the door, something I wasn’t prepared for,” he said.
He spent more than a year transforming the former greenhouse with grass growing on the floor to a brightly-lit bakery with a fudge counter, a deli display that will eventually be filled with 25 to 30 different cheeses, space for artisan breads, pies, muffins, bagels and glass cases filled with pastries. The wine cellar, set apart by murals, has 500 different labels.
Benoit said he was careful to make sure the shop has a price-point for everyone. Wines are $3 to $300. Many pastries come in two sizes, like the large cream puff for $1.80 and the bite-size puff for 45 cents.
Two bakers, Coz Hobart and Lisa Blackstone, make everything on site.
“I’ve been learning to make doughnuts,” Benoit said. “It’s really rewarding to start with a bag of flour and end with a product people are craving.”
Benoit opened the farm stand three years ago, almost accidentally. He said he leased the building with the intention of doing something, but wasn’t sure what, and started leaving apples from his family’s orchard out front as a convenient pickup point for markets and farm stands. Passers-by mistook it for a farm stand, grabbing the apples and leaving money behind. Inspired, he bought vegetables from nearby farms and put out a sign.
He spent that next winter getting the space ready inside and out. When pies and other baked goods sold well, Benoit said he began thinking about the bakery. He bounced the idea off family friends, the Grants behind Grant’s Bakery in Lewiston.
“They came right out and said it’s a lot of hours and it’s a lot of work — they were definitely right,” Benoit said. “It’s still a venture I like.”
Benoit’s Bakery & Wine Cellar is in the same facility as the farm stand, but a separate business (there’s a 4-foot drop where the two spaces are married). Benoit and General Manager Greg Hird are working the counter, for now.
Benoit said he plans to add soups, chowders, bean specials and salmon and chicken pot pies.
His mother, Lewiston City Councilor Renee Bernier, opened her business, The Basket Shed, at 25. It’s why that age became his own goal.
“The main goal was to get the Thanksgiving traffic, but in the back of my mind, (I’m thinking) I have another week to say, ‘I did it, too,”” Benoit said. “I’ve put in some crazy hours.”
The bakery is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, the farm stand 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.