CHESTER - Most days, Margie Potts' alarm clock sounds when just about everyone else is sound asleep.
The same goes for her employees at Frank's Pastry on Carolina Avenue in Chester, which opens at 5:30 a.m. sharp five days a week, but such are the lives of bakers - making sure their morning regulars get a fresh doughnut and everything is perfect for the happy couple's wedding cake. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
Bob Reed, Potts' brother, sometimes just shows up to bake doughnuts even though he doesn't work there - or anywhere for that matter; he's a retired businessman. And while the bakery's employees aren't all related by blood, they share the common bond of loving what they do.
Margie Potts, owner of Frank’s Bakery in Chester, piles mountains of icing on a batch of red velvet cupcakes.
Photo by Ian Hicks
"We are very family-oriented. Everyone that works here is like a family," said Potts, who took over running the 63-year-old bakery from her mother at the beginning of this year. "It should be a happy job. We bake cookies, and cookies make people smile."
Potts, who has worked off and on at Frank's Pastry since she was 13, said the bakery has some of the most loyal customers around. She said they are now making wedding cakes for some of the same people after baking treats for their mothers' baby showers a generation ago.
"They grow up through us, and it's nice," said Potts.
Potts' mother, Ann Reed, bought the bakery in 1973 from its founder, Frank Katzmeyer. She kept the name, and the bakery still uses all his old recipes.
Now that she's the second generation of her family to run the business, Potts wants to keep it in the family for a long time to come.
"I'm hoping one day one of my boys takes it," she said.
Visitors to the bakery are greeted by a colorful explosion of sugary temptation, from doughnuts to chocolate-covered Oreos and red velvet cake balls to intricately decorated cookies in the shape of a princess's dress. But what you see isn't necessarily all you can get.
The bakery has more than 1,000 different molds and cookie cutters, which are often bent into whatever shape is needed to fill a particular order. One couple recently asked the bakery to duplicate the Raggedy Ann and Andy cookies they made together on their first date for their wedding.
"We always say, 'Yes we can,'" Potts said. "We see it as a challenge."