It’s a tad out-of-the-ordinary for a business owner to let his mom tell personal family stories on the business’ Facebook page. But Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street) in Clarendon isn’t your ordinary business.
On Monday the quirky bakery posted the first in what it says will be a series of “Humans of Bakeshop” posts — a takeoff on the human interest stories compiled by the popular social media publication Humans of New York. The story was from Linda Stegall, mother of shop owner Justin.
“I married my college sweetheart and then put him through 5 years of post grad school while teaching and getting my own masters degree at The University of Virginia. We had two adorable little boys and then we separated when they were 2 and 3 years old. In the absence of their father, I worked hard to be a good mother and father and taught them and their friends how to play football, baseball, how to fish and ride bicycles. I was the neighborhood “dad” and mother. It was the greatest time of my life. I also had the perfect career to be a single parent – I was an elementary school teacher and just retired a few years ago after 35 years of teaching 2nd and 3rd grade! I loved teaching and feel fortunate to have had a career that I was so passionate about.
Family means so much to me.
I still live in northern Va and so do my sons, Justin and Joshua. I’m so proud of both of them- they have grown to be such amazing, kind individuals! My youngest, Josh, married a short while ago to a wonderful girl and we have become part of her extended families. He recently received his MBA from UVA. He is making his way as a leader in the corporate world. He and my amazing daughter in law, Katie, gave me the greatest gift recently, the birth of my first grandchild.
My older son, Justin, followed his dream, which coincidentally began in my kitchen as a child, and is the owner of a lovely neighborhood bakery. It’s doing very well and I am so thankful. I retired to spend more time with my mom and to help him get started in 2010. I love being here, baking and meeting and talking with our customers and working alongside my son.
I’ve worked hard all my life to be able to keep my sons in their childhood home and to take care of the house and yard. My dear father was an engineer and taught me how to do repairs on the furnace, car and tractor. I became very independent and self-sufficient after my divorce.
Hopefully, this paints a small picture of what I’ve been through and what has shaped me.”
As of this morning, the post had received more than 400 likes.
“The reaction was great,” Stegall told ARLnow.com. “We didn’t anticipate the response with my mom’s feature. That blew her away. As her son, I found it so special because she was able to reflect on how many lives she has touched. It was a very emotional experience for her.”
“My mom is an Arlington legend having taught here for 30 years and now helping in the shop where she gets to see many of her former students come in all grown up,” Stegall noted. “People really seem to like the old-school aspect of a neighborhood bakery run by a son and his mom.”
More “Humans of Bakeshop” posts are in the works — perhaps up to one per week.
“A big thing I have worked hard to build is a sense of community for the bakery,” Stegall said said. “For example, we have people that have met at the bakery and gotten married, couples that now have children and spend their Saturday mornings with us. Grandparents that grew up in the area bring their grandchildren here. It’s very special for us. That’s why we started the Humans of Bakeshop series. We want to share the personal stories of people that help operate the bakery and customers that spend their time with us.”
Pi Day in Arlington — Today is March 14, or 3/14, the day that celebrates the mathematical constant Pi (3.14159). In honor of Pi Day, the business review website Yelp is holding a “pie” event at Bakeshop (1025 N. Fillmore Street) in Clarendon, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. [Yelp]
Red Light Cameras Play ‘Pivotal Role’ — Red light cameras play a “pivotal role” in improving traffic and pedestrian safety. Arlington County says. The county’s red light cameras — currently active at four intersections — resulted in a 50 percent decrease in red light violations at those intersections, the county said. [Arlington County]
State Awards for APS Schools — Eight Arlington public elementary schools have earned a distinction as 2013 Virginia Index of Performance award winners. The schools honored are Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Ashlawn, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor, Henry and Jamestown. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington’s All-Male Book Club — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark explores “one of those rare literary phenomena — an all-male book club.” The group of 10 professional men has been meeting to discuss books in the East Falls Church/Westover neighborhood for 13 years. [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo courtesy “Westover Leftover”
The Clarendon confection store’s owner, Justin Stegall, and his mother Linda were both featured on the program, as well as Bakeshop’s oatmeal creme pie, 7-Up cupcakes, and red velvet cake. The episode was focused on nostalgic “childhood treats.”
Unique Sweets bills itself as “an insider’s peek into innovative eateries across America that are creating the most unique and exciting desserts today.” The show airs on the Cooking Channel at 10:30 p.m. on Sundays, though repeats are aired multiples times during the week.
Stegall says he got a call from the producers of the show out of the blue, asking if he wanted to be featured. A camera crew spent seven hours in the store a couple of months ago, Stegall said, and the finished, edited segment was about seven minutes.
Stegall says he was surprised by how many people have told him that they saw him on television.
“It’s kind of funny, I didn’t know cooking TV was as big as it was,” he said. “The craziest thing is that my friends… are calling up and telling me they saw me on TV, and I didn’t tell them it was going to be on.”
Screen capture collage courtesy of Lu
GOP Will Likely Control Va. Senate — Despite the clean sweep by Arlington Democrats, it looks like Republicans will pick up the two Virginia Senate seats they needed to wrest control of the state Senate from Democrats. “If the results hold, Republicans will have complete control of state government for only the second time since the Civil War,” the Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, Republicans will now have a two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates after picking up six seats there. Gov. Bob McDonnell said the GOP-controlled General Assembly will be more likely to push a “pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage” agenda.
Hawaiians Protest Bail of Arlington Resident — Dozens of demonstrators marched through Honolulu last night to protest the release of State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy, an Arlington resident, on $250,000 bail. Deedy, 27, is charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man in the chest during a late-night argument inside a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [Associated Press]
Closures Planned for Tuckahoe 5K — The third annual Tuckahoe 5K run will be held on Saturday morning. Rolling street closures are planned in the East Falls Church neighborhood between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. For interested runners, limited race day registration will be available at Tuckahoe Elementary School. [Tuckahoe 5K].
Cookie Within a Cookie in Clarendon — What do you get when you place an Oreo cookie within a chocolate chip cookie? You get an ‘Oreo in a Blanket,’ which is being offered by Bakeshop in Clarendon (1025 N. Fillmore Street). [Clarendon Culture]
Clarendon’s cupcake-and-coffee store Bakeshop is now serving breakfast.
At the bright and early hour of 8:00 a.m., Tuesday through Friday, Bakeshop (1025 North Fillmore Street) will unlock the doors and start selling bagels, croissants, coffeecake and Wrecking Ball coffee. The new opening hours took effect yesterday, and we hear it was surprisingly busy for the first day.
According to Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley, a county zoning employee “randomly” stopped by just before 4:00 p.m. and took her sandwichboard sign.
“This sign cost me over $175!” Buckley wrote in an email shortly after the incident. “I just got a call… telling me he threw it in a dumpster.”
Also gone: the sign for Bakeshop, the cupcake-and-coffee place down the block from Screwtop. See below for the county’s explanation of why the signs were removed.
“I’m a pretty positive and easy going person,” Buckley said. “But with today’s actions I am beginning to wonder what won’t this county do to hurt small businesses?”
Buckley quickly added that the county board has been “great” and are “the only people who ‘get it'” when it comes to the needs of small businesses.
In fact, during July’s three-hour board discussion of sidewalk seating on Fillmore Street, board member Chris Zimmerman emphatically encouraged his county colleagues to be more permissive with signs, especially sandwich board signs. Zimmerman and other board members spoke specifically about using signs to attract more foot traffic to the sleepy portion of North Fillmore Street where Screwtop and Bakeshop reside.
“Each of us on North Fillmore Street has a sandwich board sign to try and attract eyeballs down from Clarendon Boulevard,” Buckley said. “I am always happy to comply with any law, but our little businesses are doing everything we can to survive on this street. I don’t see how our signs, which are out of the way, can hurt anyone.”
Update at 2:15 p.m. — The head of the Arlington County Zoning Office has responded to our story.
Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman says sandwich board signs are prohibited throughout Arlington County. Despite supportive words for the signs at the July board meeting, Artman says board members must take legislative action in order to permit the signs to be placed on county property.
Screwtop was given three warnings about its sign, Artman says. The first was issued on June 10. The last was issued within the past couple weeks, and included a warning citation that the sign was “subject to immediate removal,” according to Artman.
It is a criminal misdemeanor offense to place a sign on public property in Arlington County. Violations are subject to fines up to $2,500. Screwtop has not been fined.
Artman says the county confiscates hundreds of signs per week, but tries to warn business owners first before removing them.
“Of course we support small business here in Arlington… but the feedback we receive from the community is that sign enforcement is very important to them,” she said.
When a sign is confiscated it’s thrown out, since the zoning office has no storage capacity.
Artman says many businesses, especially in the Ballston area, openly flout the county’s sign regulations. Sign enforcement has become a cat and mouse game; recently inspectors started conducting sign enforcement randomly rather than at set times, because businesses had gotten wise to the inspection schedules. The county now deploys six inspectors on sign enforcement details for three hours each week.
Watch out, Bakeshop. Another cupcake shop is coming to Clarendon, and they’re bringing along a loyal following.
A Crumbs representative told arlnow.com that the Clarendon location is scheduled to open in May. She said she was unsure of the future store’s exact location.
Upscale cupcake bakeries are nothing new. Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired, and Hello Cupcake are just a few of the gourmet baked goods establishments lining the streets of the District. Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe on 2150 N. Culpeper Street in North Arlington has won some online acclaim for its more traditional cupcakes. But Bakeshop, at 1025 N. Fillmore Street, has the distinction of being the first of its kind in Clarendon.
The store is a labor of love for chief cupcake maker Justin Stegall. Stegall’s sweets have been sold at various DC coffee shops, including Chinatown Coffee Co. (hat tip: Washington City Paper). Now, he finally has a storefront to call his own.
Bakeshop hasn’t officially opened yet, but Stegall has been inviting people to check out the store during special hours announced via Twitter. During Saturday’s snow storm, about 60 people stopped by for a so-called soft opening. Within five hours, the store was sold out.
(Pictures and an expert cupcake review, after the jump.)
The store opened up at 4:00 this afternoon, about an hour behind schedule. As curious first-time patrons trickled in, Stegall, still working in the back, iced each cupcake individually as it was ordered. The first customer of the day was a self-described “cupcake connoisseur,” who didn’t want her name published. Her verdict? Not the best she’s had, but pretty damn good.
The red velvet cupcake she ordered had just the right combination of light crunchiness on top and fluffiness in the middle, she said. The icing also got top marks for being tasty but not too heavy.
Bakeshop is also selling freshly-made cookies. The oatmeal-blueberry cookie being sold today was delicious. It was warm and soft, with a substantial but not overbearing amount of chunkiness.
Stegall’s friend and business partner, Robert Kim, says they hope to officially launch by next Saturday, in order to catch some Valentine’s Day business. However, the exact date for the opening is still in flux as last-minute details of the business get ironed out.
Inevitably, Kim was asked about the staying power of a primarily cupcake-based business. Kim says talk of the cupcake craze being a fad misses the point.
“I don’t think it’s a fad,” he said. “It’s a rediscovery of an American classic… an ideal treat.”
Look for more sweet treats to go on sale in the coming weeks, including pudding, cakes and pies. Bakeshop is also currently serving Wrecking Ball coffee, with espresso drinks in the works.