Meridian Industrial

PETE'S SWEETS

2021-04-01 | VICKI MITCHELL

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Pete’s Sweets in East Longmeadow bills itself as “your neighborhood American bakery.” That’s only true if you take that definition to include a bakery that regularly holds themed weekends where the staff dresses in elaborate costumes, where the bakery itself is decorated to the hilt and offers custom designed treats in keeping with the theme.

Peter Gray, owner of the bakery for the last 8 years, is the driving force behind the themed weekends. His talented staff is also crucial to the success of this endeavor, and includes Danielle Maheu (bakery manager, cake decorator, and creator of the themed shipping boxes,) and head baker Tessa Morneau (who makes all the amazing cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other treats.) According to
Pete, the staff also includes “Nicole Stuart our bookkeeper....she keeps my spending in check!!! (Well, as much as she can.) My lovely mother Mary Gray is our wedding manager who specializes in organizing wedding appointments with our happy clients. Shannon Kennedy is our in-store photographer, and she also manages our social media accounts. We also have countless friends & family that lend a helping hand when needed.”

What motivated Pete to offer this unusual and immersive experience to his customers? COVID-19, of course! Due to the pandemic, the bakery was no longer able to offer its birthday parties or in-person classes, and of course, many weddings and other special occasions were cancelled or postponed. Therefore, “we had to get creative during COVID to keep safe and stay sane,” says Pete. “Our immersive experiences are an escape from reality! This pandemic has been tough on us all. It robbed us of our celebrations and events. This is my (and my staff’s) way of being able to flex our creative muscles, and it also gives our clients a fun excuse to look forward to an event!”

The theme for March was “Under the Sea” and as you can “see” from the photos, Pete’s Sweets was transformed into a coral reef (made by Pete from discarded/recycled material) with sea turtles and jelly fish swimming overhead, the staff dressed as lovely mermaids, and Pete the Pirate standing guard over his treasure chest. The special treats for sale included oyster cookies with a pearl inside, snickerdoodle sand dollars, cupcakes decorated with octopi, coral or shark fins on top, multi-colored mermaid bark candy, and cookies decorated as mermaid tails and sea shells.

Pete plans to continue offering the themed events, which occur over a designated weekend every month. In April, look for an Arabian Nights theme, followed by themes such as a tea party, a casino, and a world of candy! Each event also offers the opportunity to purchase a themed box of goodies that can be delivered to the recipient’s doorstep for $59.95. A limited number of boxes will be available, and they sell quickly. Check the website for details.

When the staff is not planning a themed weekend, they stay busy preparing the many baked items available on a regular basis. These include over 17 varieties of cookies, hundreds of combinations of cake and icing, and “countless brownies, bars, and assorted treats.” As for Pete, although he personally doesn’t spend as much time baking anymore, he does love to whip up a batch of classic chocolate chip cookies. “Ironically” he says, “that’s my favorite to eat!”

To get an idea of the cake and filling options offered, check out the website, where in addition to chocolate and vanilla, you’ll find cake flavors such as almond, spice, orange, red velvet, lemon, confetti, and seasonal flavors. Fillings are almost endless and include vanilla bean, crème brulee, Kahlua, cinnamon and other buttercreams, lemon curd, peanut butter, Oreo and various fresh fruits. Their wedding cakes have received the Weddingwire Couple’s Choice award for several years in a row.

When asked what motivated him to get started in the bakery business, Pete replied, “This dates back pretty far! I have always liked to bake - as far back as I can remember, I have had a wooden spoon in my hand. I used to make cakes for all my friends’ Sweet 16 birthdays.

“I went to New England Culinary School in Vermont. After participating in The Next Great Baker on TLC (hosted by the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro) I opened Pete’s Sweets as the area’s premiere all American bakery, making custom cakes & baked goods.”

As you can probably guess, “there is no typical day at Pete’s Sweets. We are the most untraditional-traditional bakery you’ll ever visit! We have twists on traditional treats, we dress up in costumes and have photo shoots, we recipe test cocktails and savory recipes, and create handmade decorations, all while taking cake and cupcake orders from our clients. I love making people happy,” Pete says, “whether it’s with cakes or elaborate costumes and decorations!”

Pete’s Sweets is located at 32 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts 413-525-6062
www.petes-sweets.com

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