“For me it’s important to make friends of my customers and have a special ‘neighborhood’ place for them,” says Lashonda Sanford, owner of Scratch Bakery in Port Warwick. “I love knowing my customers and their favorite treats. Being able to provide cakes and other goodies for the important events in their lives makes me happy.”
She has modeled her bakery after Spalding’s Bakery in Lexington, Kentucky, where she grew up. Whenever she visits family, a trip to Spalding’s is a must.
Sanford got her “start” making cakes for her family. Soon she was baking cakes for her church and for community events. She turned her garage into a commercial kitchen. One day her husband said, “Do you want this to be a hobby or a career?” She opened her bakery in Port Warwick in 2011 and is enjoying much success.
Scratch Bakery has moved to a larger location down the street from its original store. She has a second location in Phoebus, plus a food truck. “I had a bakery in Williamsburg in New Town for two years,” says Sanford. “However, Williamsburg is very ‘touristy’ and I never achieved the ‘neighborhood’ atmosphere I wanted.” The Phoebus location is a stand-alone bakery. Everything sold there is prepared on premises. “We call it the Baby Scratch,” says Sanford with a smile.
My products speak for themselves,” says Sanford. “I have very high standards. Everything must be ‘perfect’ or it must be done over. Referrals work very well for us.” Sanford says that the food truck is a “moving billboard.” It goes to schools, outdoor parties at homes or businesses, breweries and special events.
Sanford offers non-bakery food items, including soups, chicken salad sandwiches and chicken pot pies. Locally made ice cream is also available. “The pot pies are really popular,” says Sanford. “We always sell out.”
The bakery offers custom cakes, cupcakes, pies, cookies, brownies and bars. Cakes are custom designed for weddings, birthdays, showers, corporate parties and much more. “I have noticed that the fondant-iced cake and the cupcake tier are not as popular at weddings as they use to be,” Sanford says. “The preference now is a cake with ‘drip icing,’ usually made with edible gold.”
A much-requested design for baby showers is the “baby bottom” with feet and toes sticking out. There are 20 cake flavors including Oreo Overload, Salty Caramel, Death by Chocolate, Orange Dreamsicle and Almond Joy.
Scratch Bakery has won a Business of the Year Award from the Retail Alliance. It also was named Daily Press Best Bakery of the 757 in 2015 and 2016.
Sanford has as many as 15 employees, some part-time. “It is difficult to find the right employees,” she says. “I have found that experience at fast-food chains does not transfer well. Small business experience is best. She also uses “externs,” who are culinary school students working as part of their curriculum.
This master baker does not rely as much on family and friends as she did in the beginning years. “They will still pitch in when I really need them,” she says. Sanford says that her 14-year-old daughter is her “partner in crime.” She helps with setups and works on the food truck. Sanford has three children; her husband is a minister and an architect.
Sanford enjoys taking cruises with her family. “We like to get away to the Caribbean,” she says. “We like ‘staycations,’ too,” she adds.
And what are Sanford’s favorites? “I like our carrot cake and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse,” she says.
Sanford likes to check out other cupcake shops. She has successfully outlasted much of her competition. Always open to new ideas for expansion, for now she prefers to concentrate on expanding the Phoebus shop. She may consider franchising in the future. She is looking into a drive-by service since parking is a problem at Port Warwick.
She is also investigating online business and options such as Uber Eats and Grub Hub, which offer delivery.
“After ten years of baking, my love of cooking has not diminished,” says Sanford. “I am in the bakery kitchen every day and I still do a lot of baking for my family. I am also proud that I have successfully executed everything on my original business plan.”
Address: 4181 William Styron Square,
Port Warwick, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Lashonda Sanford, owner