Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

December 28, 2012

TIM PRESTON: Bread and cookies, 'cool stuff' downtown and Coles to rescue

ASHLAND — I was in a rush to get out of Grayson last week, although determined to make a quick visit to Weaver’s Market to follow up on a previous notice of intention to investigate rumors of outstanding old-fashioned cookies and other goodies inside the small shop at 539 W. Main St.

I could hear the sounds of a batch of bakers in the back as I walked in and found myself practically arrested by an aroma I soon learned was a combination of cookies and pies. I spent a few moments wandering around the shop and was immediately impressed by the variety of goodies on the shelves, including an assortment of yogurt covered pretzels (in raspberry, strawberry and blueberry) and other snack-size items. The shelves also held jams, jellies, pickled products and all kinds of other things I suspect will be of interest to anyone who appreciates hard-to-find products.

I found what I was looking for on a wall near the back, where small batches of molasses, chocolate chip and other cookies awaited beneath loaves of freshly-baked sourdough bread.

I can’t imagine how she wasn’t covered in flour, but a spotless young lady emerged from the back and rang up my cookie and bread purchase and made me feel quite welcome. I left a card for owner Linford Weaver and was on the phone with him shortly after I landed back in the newsroom that day.

“It has been a busy week for us,” Weaver said, explaining the little bakery was extra busy recently with Thanksgiving orders for things including stack cakes and pumpkin rolls, and similar demand building as Christmas gets closer, adding pies and cakes and dinner rolls to the in-demand list. Weaver said the shop is also making an effort to carry an increasing number of locally manufactured goods, including a new line of peanut brittle and fudge, along with other specialty products.

Weaver, who owns the shop along with his wife, said they keep everything running with the help of “local church girls.” And, I could almost see him shaking his head when I asked about perceptions that Weaver’s Market is “an Amish bakery.”

“We don’t even fight it,” he said with what sounded like a shrug, explaining they are members of the Mennonite church and chuckling as he pointed out people don’t seem to have noticed they rely on a car for daily travel.

The market will be closed for two weeks after the new year, Weaver said, and will re-open with additional soups (vegetable, bean and ham and another recipe to be announced) to accompany the sandwiches (a deli case is located right next to the cash register) they now make for lunch customers.

Back to my bread and cookies purchase — I hadn’t even cleared the ramp to get on the interstate by the time I’d wolfed down half a molasses cookie. I took the rest home and for some strange reason my wife and I awoke before the break of dawn the next morning when she remembered the baked goods were still awaiting. Within minutes we were sitting in bed eating milk and cookies, making yummy sounds the whole time. I think we both favored the old-fashioned molasses cookies, which Weaver’s makes extra thick, soft and chewy. I also spent a few morning minutes dunking a chocolate chip model into a glass of milk and have to give that recipe a two-thumbs up rating also.

The sourdough bread is likely gone before I even finish typing this, and my wife has declared I must find a way to make twice-weekly runs to Grayson so we can keep it in stock from this point forward. I used it to craft some strange sandwich with avocado and also made a batch of late-night  french toast with it and it was excellent for those purposes as well. For more information or to place an order, call Weaver’s Market at (606) 474-0304.

‘Cool stuff’ downtown

A friend advised she has friends who just opened a new shop within a block of my office, resulting in the discovery of the new Willow Creek Home Decor shop at 121 16th St. in Ashland, next door to Identity Salon.

I spoke to Sara Rutkowski, who made a point of saying her husband, Thomas, “basically does everything.” She explained their shop carries a variety of products including wreaths, candles and home decor items, and specializes in restoration of antique furniture. Mr. Rutkowski also creates furniture items including Mason-Jar chandeliers and also enjoys working with customers to craft custom pieces.  

Sara, who is a 1995 graduate of Greenup High School, said she met her husband, a Toledo native, while both were working in Cincinnati and they recently returned to this area to be near her family.  Willow Creek Home Decor is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (606) 939-2762.

Cole saves the day

I have to give a salute and heartfelt thanks to the crew at Bill Cole Auto Mall on Winchester Avenue in Ashland last week after they went above and beyond to help me with a situation involving my perpetually problematic Nissan.

I was in a tight spot with one eye on the clock and a heightened sense of frustration as Service Manager David Perdue worked with me to solve the problem, which involved the needed equipment in one place and my vehicle in another. I remembered Bill Cole himself once said something like, “If I can ever do you a favor, let me know,” and I repeated that to Perdue, along with what I suspect was an exaggerated explanation (some might say it was a complete fabrication) about how Mr. Cole and I are old-time buddies since childhood and about the time I saved his life in the war.

Perdue didn’t miss a beat and immediately called upon master technician Jim Manning, who grabbed a laptop, jumped in a vehicle and personally visited my stranded Xterra, promptly bringing it back to life. I called back the next day to see how much that added service call was going to cost and Perdue essentially said they were just happy to help. By my measure, that’s outstanding service.

For more information about Bill Cole Auto Mall, call (606) 329-2288.

For small town merchants

Business owners in small markets may want to sign up for an upcoming strategy session being presented by Morehead State University-Ashland SBDC and national retail and restaurant specialist Marc Willson.

The January program, titled “Staying Relevant to a Changed Customer,” will be held from 8 to 10 a.m., Jan. 16 in the meeting room at Super 8 in Grayson.

“Small town retailers and restaurant businesses are the heart of our communities. Keeping them thriving is vital to our economy,” said Kim Jenkins, adding the training is free and a complimentary continental breakfast. A limited number of businesses will also be provided a free 90-minute business audit at their location by Willson. “This audit will assess everything from curb side appeal, merchandising, pricing structure, and much more. Business audits will be scheduled at the training on January 16 and will take place on January 16-17.”

Register online at http://tinyurl.com/GraysonSTMP or call Kim Jenkins at (606) 329-8011.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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