BETHEL — After working at Cafe DiCocoa for 26 years, since age 14, Anna Sysko and her business partners will turn the lights on their own Main Street bakery later this year, one that’s been partially outfitted by a massive response to a crowdfunding campaign.

A 26-day Kickstarter that wrapped Wednesday raised nearly $59,000 with rewards like homemade bread and fresh coffee — and the larger reward of having a bakery downtown again after DiCocoa’s closed last summer.

“We knew we had to come up with some funds to help with the equipment costs because one thing we knew for certain is what people want around town … and we knew that it would take a substantial amount of money to get a bakery to be at full capacity right off the bat,” Sysko said. “We know people are really excited about having a bagel shop and a full espresso bar, coffee, doors open every day.”

Sysko and Nicole Pellerin worked together baking for 12 years and started talking three years ago about having their own place someday. They initially hoped to buy Cafe DiCocoa, but when that didn’t work out, they started looking for spaces around Bethel.

Anna Sysko, left, and Nicole Pellerin will open Gemini Cafe & Bakery later this spring on Main Street in Bethel, boosted in part by nearly $59,000 raised in 26 days by supporters in a crowdfunding campaign. Matt Stagliano of Stonetree Creative photo

They partnered with the owners of the Gem Theater and the Maine Gem & Mineral Museum last spring and landed on a former KeyBank branch at 96 Main St.

“It still had the offices and the conference rooms and the vaults, all of it,” Sysko said.

A large safety deposit box vault will become half walk-in refrigerator, half office and storage space.

Demolition began about four months ago and planning for the Kickstarter began in the fall.

The initial amount, $47,300, was raised in eight days, so fast that they added, and then met, a stretch goal for additional equipment.

“I was amazed, humbled and so grateful,” Pellerin said. “For me, this is a dream come true. I get to open this bakery with a partner who is just as excited and dedicated as I am.”

Kickstarter funds from 309 backers will cover the cost of a triple-deck oven, espresso machine, bagel boiling kettle and spiral mixer.

They hope to open Gemini Cafe & Bakery by Memorial Day and envision a community spot with people meeting over croissants and coffee, listening to live music on Fridays and stopping in to grab fresh bread, cheese or greens.

Sysko said they’d like to keep ingredients as local as possible, “really celebrating what we’ve got going on here, using Maine grains, flour” and fruits and vegetables.

Their bagel recipe is still being developed, “but we do know that the best bagels must be boiled, and because of the Kickstarter, we’re able to purchase this oven that has ceramic plates on the bottom that give you the best chewy crust and also has steam injection,” she said.

Pellerin said she’s looking forward to early mornings in the bakery, baking with Sysko again and going to work every day knowing that so many people in the community came together to make Gemini Cafe & Bakery happen.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of, ‘What will I be smiling the most about,’ I think it would be about offering people food that we’ve really put a lot of intention into and meeting them there at the counter,” Sysko said. “Of course, the friendships and all of the connections we get from a cafe. Have you ever been to a town that doesn’t have a bakery or cafe? It feels a little bit lonely.”


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