It's been 13 years since Conway's Patti Stobaugh opened that first PattiCakes Bakery in Russellville, Arkansas.
In 2010 came the Conway location, which sits behind Stoby's Restaurant, owned by Patti and her husband, David, on Donaghey Avenue.
But what's next for the couple?
That's exactly the conversation the Log Cabin Democrat had with Patti inside the downtown storefront, currently being converted from the office space they've used since purchasing the location in 1990, to a quaint European-type pâtisserie.
Patti described the project as "her last hoorah."
"We've had this place ... it was like, 'it's time to do something,'" she said.
While the front of the building has been used by nonprofits and other groups as needed office space, the back is a commercial kitchen where the bakery makes most of its pastries, including the hundreds or more croissants PattiCakes and Stoby's goes through each week, employees running from the food items from the downtown kitchen to the Donaghey locations.
"I have four employees down here, three of them are pastry chefs," Patti said. "We've been doing 95% of our baking down here for years."
Her "we've got it here, why not sell it here," attitude is what led to the decision to open the new store.
"It was just that simple," Patti said.
What started out as around a "$30,000, less than a month" project, quickly went the other direction, putting way more money and time into it than she had set out to.
"That's not how it ended up," she said, a tone of acceptance in her voice. "You've got to spend money to make money."
PattiCakes Downtown was supposed to be open by Toad Suck Daze in May. It's now set to open before school starts in August.
It's all good though, Patti acted, jumping into what they've found along the way and designs she plans to incorporate.
If someone was to walk into the structure toward the end of the week — the LCD visited with Patti on Tuesday — what they'd see is newly-laid flooring, painted walls and furniture sitting in boxes, waiting to be assembled.
Before that though, it was like "Christmas morning," as Patti described it.
One of the first things they did was take the green and white awning off; she's not planning on putting that back up either, either.
Someone at one point lowered the ceiling too and added Sheetrock to the walls.
“I was here late one night [and] I thought, something’s going on behind there," referring to the walls. "There got to be something behind there.”
So, she pulled down several framed pictures and grabbed her sledgehammer, taking a whack at the plaster. Underneath, she found original brick.
But that wasn't the only surprise she'd find.
Next, they took down a pole standing in the middle of the room, which caused the ceiling to drape. They realized that it had been dropped and began tearing it down. What they found was 15 transom windows and beadboard lining the ceiling and walls.
"They were hidden," Patti told the LCD, shocked. "I'm not kidding you. Who does that!"
As far as decoration goes, Patti has only added paint to what she found, planning on incorporating the simple antique-feel that the old building already had with a couple of other pieces she's collected, including the possibility of using a fireplace mantle she picked up at a roadshow, creating that small, European quaintness.
"You never know what you're going to find when you go in there," she said, referring to the pâtisseries. "That's what we're after. I want this to feel kind of like stepping back in time.”
Patti also wants to continue that customer-led, small-town feel.
“The same with PattiCakes ... I want people to feel like they sort of have ownership in it," she said. "We have some customers that come in PattiCakes and come and help themselves and ring themselves up.
“They’re just comfortable and that’s what I want. I want them to feel like it’s kind of just an extension of their home. That's what we're all about."
As for what customers can find, Patti said the idea is to start small, their own goal to continue to be a completely scratch-free bakery.
"We want to know, ‘hey, we took these ingredients, and we made [this],'" she said.
Items customers will be able to find, include:
• European pastries.
• Lots of grab-and-go pieces like soups, cheese dips and salads.
• Pie slices.
• Bread pudding made from their famous leftover croissants.
• Keto-friendly items, catering to the gym, Glover Fitness, next door.
“It could be that we will eventually do that but not starting off," Patti said. "We have to be careful. We have to be able not handle what we’re doing.”
Logistically, the new shop made sense. They had the kitchen in the back plus plenty of storage, several walk-in coolers and the know-how to run it.
Patti said everyone asks her "why in the heck" she's doing this.
“Here’s the deal … here’s why we’re doing this [...] we’re doing this for a couple of reasons," she said. "Donaghey’s going to be under construction and it could be that if it starts affecting Stoby's business, we will start doing more Stoby’s related items here. It could be that we will just shift more of the operations just to help out while that construction is going on because we don’t know what it’s going to do.”
The location is set to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but the owner said they will adjust if they need to later on.
Patti laughed and said she's really excited for everything to get done, eager for the installing and set-up to be over, ready for everyone to get out of her way so she can finally start piecing everything together ... add her touch.