A self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast born and raised in Galesburg, Laura Anderson had long imagined opening up a bakery. She discussed this idea often with friends, but thought it was a fantasy that would have to wait for her retirement years. Instead, six weeks ago she and her husband Todd found themselves signing as the new owners of Uncle Billy’s Bakery on Seminary Street.
“I’m not a person who embraces a lot of change… for me to jump into this was a pretty big deal. But I want that to encourage [my kids] to take chances too,” she said.
The transition began for the Andersons when they learned from a friend about Uncle Billy’s, located on 83 S. Seminary St, being up for sale. Laura Anderson had begun to feel it was time to move on from a 25 year career in physical therapy, and came to the decision to make the purchase with her husband. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Carriage House Bakery for business on Wednesday morning.
“Within the first few days of walking in the backdoor of this place – it felt right,” Anderson said. “I’ve always loved to bake, always loved to cook, and I’ve always loved entertaining and now I’m just going to do it on a professional level I guess.”
The Andersons purchased Uncle Billy’s Bakery from Maury and Sue Lyon, explaining that the latter couple opted to focus on running their other Seminary Street business, Cornucopia. The bakery’s new name was chosen in honor of Laura Anderson’s father, who for over 30 years ran the Carriage House furniture store in Galesburg.
Laura Anderson credited her support system of friends and family with making it possible for them to open just six weeks after the purchasing of the bakery, with friends and her two brothers coming in to prepare the interior and work on construction.
“My mom even – she can’t get out by herself, but she’s been at home stamping bags,” she said.
Laura Anderson emphasized the extent to which the Carriage House will be a family business, expecting it will become a second home to her kids like her father’s store was to her. In addition to a college aged son, the Andersons have two 16-year-olds who expect to work at the bakery, as well as a 13-year-old daughter.
“I said, this is going to be life changing for all of us and I need to know that you guys are okay with it,” Anderson said. “All four of them, they were nothing but supportive, they just absolutely loved the idea. My oldest has been down here practically every day that I’ve been down here.”
Anderson does expect running a bakery while having four children, and her husband still working in Peoria, to present challenges. While she foresees the demand of working from early mornings to late nights on Fridays and Saturdays, she again expects it to be familiar to what things were like growing up with a father as a business owner.
“I’ve been here very late nights, soon as I dropped my daughter off at school in the morning, I’m down here by 7:45 and some nights I haven’t left until 1:30 in the morning.”
While the name and appearance of the bakery have changed, Anderson hoped to ensure customers of Uncle Billy’s they will still find a familiar menu. She noted that the Uncle Billy’s recipes came with the purchase, and that she’s been keeping track on Facebook of what people hope to see offered.
“We’re going to have wonderful cookies and pastries and pies and ice cream, cause I’m an ice cream addict so we had to add ice cream to the menu,” Anderson said. “I want them to love all of that, but I also want them to love the atmosphere of being here and feel welcome here.”