VERONA ISLAND — A Beals Island native has opened Sweet Cheeks Bakery at 70 Route 1 just before the bridge connecting Verona Island to Bucksport.
Jonathan Beal has been busy baking cream horns, chocolate eclairs, cookies, brownies, lemon bars, pies, donuts, cheesecake, whoopie pies, bars and muffins to make your sweet dreams come true.
Opening officially last Friday, the bakery’s schedule will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday, to start. In May, Sweet Cheeks will be open Thursdays as well.
As a young man, Beal was interested in pursuing a career in the culinary field and had gotten accepted to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. But life took a different turn and he ended up studying business and moving to Portland.
Jonathan’s family, indeed his ancestors, made their living in the marine trades as boat builders and fishermen. Two, Riley Beal and Adrian Beal, are in the Maine Boatbuilders Hall of Fame. His great-grandfather was a lighthouse keeper.
“That was not for me,” he said.
“This is my passion,” said Beal, pointing to tray after tray of baked goods. “This is what I wanted to do.”
So Beal is back home Downeast, living in Orland with partner Mike Roy, who completely rehabbed the 80-year-old building the bakery inhabits. The structure was once a weigh station.
It’s thanks in part to Roy that the bakery’s offerings also include gluten-free whoopie pies.
Beal says he’s completely self-taught. Many of the recipes hail from Beals Island — like Jonathan himself.
“Ninety percent of my recipes are old family recipes,” he related. “My pie crust is from my Great-Aunt Etta.”
There is Aunt Gay’s (Gay Crowley) Peanut Butter Pie and Verda Beal’s Strawberry Pie.
Cakes are his favorite to bake, and he makes custom ones to order. They turn out the best when customers allow him to use his creativity.
“The support from Downeast has been overwhelming,” Beal said. His mother, Linda Tarr, is his biggest supporter.
Eventually, he and Roy plan to have a regular delivery route heading Downeast, making drops in Hancock, Cherryfield, Columbia and Jonesport.
Beal likes the Verona Island spot for its location right on Route 1. He wants to be a part of the community and to help young people who are interested in the culinary field. To that end, he’s working with Regional School Unit 25 to create a scholarship for a student who wants to go to culinary school. Funds will be raised in part through a cake-of-the-month auction.
To see Sweet Cheeks’ specialties and menu, visit the bakery’s Facebook page or the website at sweetcheeksbakes.com.
For more info, call 702-9363.