Flying under the radar for years, the Jackie O’s Bakeshop, 23 E. Stimson Ave., is ready to soar with the opening of their new storefront.
Born during COVID-19 times, the Jackie O’s Bakeshop, an extension of the Jackie O’s brand, spent the previous two years preparing and renovating the space to finally open its doors in Jan. 2020.
Prior to having a space, the bakeshop has been around longer than most people think. The Jackie O’s Public House Restaurant, 22 W. Union St., has been selling Jackie O’s baked goods for roughly the past 10 years.
Junebug, head baker for Jackie O’s Bakeshop, discussed how the idea of Jackie O’s baked goods first came to be.
“I asked Art, who is the owner of Jackie O’s, if I could be a cook or something when the kitchen opens up, (and) he said ‘Well sure,’” Junebug said. “It wasn’t long after that we were getting some bread from the local purveyors and I said, ‘I bet I could make better bread than that.’ That opportunity there was when I really doubled down. I got really serious about it, trying to make the best bread possible.”
After getting the opportunity to relearn and hone his baking skills at Jackie O’s Public House Restaurant, Junebug started taking his passion elsewhere. He eventually began selling his baked goods to various restaurants around the area and frequently made appearances at the Athens Farmers Market.
After making a name at the farmers market, Junebug began toying with the idea of opening up an official bakeshop in Athens. 10 years into searching and roughly six to seven properties later, they were finally able to locate the perfect storefront in 2020.
Despite what most may think, opening during COVID-19 actually worked out in favor of the start-up business.
“I think it played to our strengths a little bit,” Junebug said. “Simply because we didn’t have much of a staff; there were just four of us at the time.”
The time not only allowed the staff to adjust, but also allowed them to build an efficient and easy contactless pick-up system. Early on, they established an online order format, where customers can order off their website and pick up their baked goods. They also set up a pass-through window, similar to a drive-thru, where customers can drive by and pick up their orders.
As far as variety goes, Jackie O’s Bakeshop offers plenty, from a wide-range of different breads, cookies, pies, cakes and other assortments of pastries.
Alongside baked goods, the bakeshop also likes to incorporate ingredients from local farms in their food. These various ingredients include bacon and sausage from King Family Farms, cheese from Middlefield Cheese and eggs from High Bottom Farms. They even sell local brands like Ted’s Famous Pepper Butter, a pepper butter made by fellow longtime employee Ted Palmer.
As part of a local business himself, Junebug said it was important to incorporate local food to the bakeshop and the Jackie O’s name.
“That’s just the kind of thing that Jackie O’s does on a lot of different levels that nobody would really know the inside story about — how we’re integrated with friends, family and the community,” Junebug said. “Same with a lot of the stuff we buy. It’s just satisfying to interweave and help support all these people because they’re the true characters of this area. It’s all of us lifting each other up.”
As an extension of the Jackie O’s brand, many students expressed how reminiscent the name is to them.
Meredith Darrah, a freshman studying undecided health studies, said many good memories are associated with Jackie O’s.
“When I first moved in, that is where my mom took me because she went here,” Darrah said. “It was really good. I liked their fried pickles.”
As for students who are longtime lovers of Jackie O’s, they have no doubt the bakeshop would be any less excellent than food sold at the public house.
“Their food was really good when I went to Jackie O’s, so I have to assume their bakery is going to be good,” Jimmy Osborne, a junior studying finance, said.
Regardless of all the excitement students expressed, Jackie O’s Bakeshop has some expanding to do in the upcoming months.
In the wake of growing their business, the storefront is looking to extend their hours. As the storefront is only open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Junebug hopes to open up the storefront for lunch hours and even be open on Thursdays and Fridays. Though before they can increase the hours of the store, they must find more employees.
Despite being understaffed, Junebug is proud of his employees and how far the business has come.
“We really want to be open more, and we’ve (been) working towards that,” Junebug said. “We just need a couple more people. But the people that we have are all amazing. I’m so impressed with all my crew. They’re all very intelligent and hardworking people. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Correction: A previous headline of this story incorrectly stated the name of the business. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.