After the death of her husband, a Brunswick woman’s pastry shop turns from therapy to a booming business
Four-tier lemon-raspberry cake. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Tiramisu.
Not so long ago, Midcoast residents looking for a late-night treat might have been stuck with a candy bar from a vending machine or maybe gas station ice cream. . But over the past two years, police, students and other late-night sugar-lovers have transformed Kristie’s Creations from a side-hustle into a bustling 24/7 family bakery on Hennessey Avenue. , otherwise quiet, in Brunswick.
“We cook every day, two shifts a day,” owner Kristie Freeman said. “That’s all we do. We’ll go all night depending on what we have for orders. On Friday nights, we usually don’t go to bed.
Pumpkin muffins. White Chocolate Blondies. Giant citrus twists.
Freeman always loved cooking growing up. While other kids listened to Saturday morning cartoons, she preferred PBS cooking shows.
After a heart attack killed Freeman’s husband, Russell, in 2017, baking became more than a hobby for the now-single mother of a teenage daughter: it was an emotional release.
“I thought my life was over,” she recalls. “But I had to get a job, do something to support myself and my daughter. I started cooking on the side. It became my therapy – just a reason to keep going and keep moving forward.
Freeman often shared his creations with his fellow nurses at Mid Coast Hospital. She rejected their suggestions to start a business, but began distracting herself during restless nights by researching and designing a commercial kitchen.
Then the pandemic hit and Freeman found himself in the middle of a sea of laid-off Americans. Needing a way to make money, she decided to spend more time on Kristie’s Creations, which until then was just a small side project.
“We started with a bake sale, just to tell people, ‘We’re here,'” Freeman said. “The bake sale never ended.”
Dark chocolate and cherry scones. Quiche with ham and cheddar. Meatloaf.
Zeb Dodge wasn’t much of a baker, but he could cook.
Dodge, once a childhood sweetheart of Freeman, reconnected with her in 2019. When he, too, lost his job due to the pandemic, he joined his now-fiancé in the kitchen for marathon cooking sessions that span regularly until 6 o’clock in the morning.
“It’s our life now,” he said.
Along with spearheading the bakery’s wildly popular comfort food dinners, which he aims to cook once a week, Dodge was responsible for the most unique element of the business: his unattended bakery stand, 24/7, where customers can pay for an assortment of goodies with Venmo, PayPal or, through a locked drop box, cash or check.
“I called Kristie and said, ‘Why don’t we do a bakery stand instead of a farm stand? “, Dodge said. “It kind of went from there.”
20 to 30 customers visit the bakery stand each week, which accounts for about half of Kristie’s Creation business, according to Freeman. Many night workers, including taxi drivers and police officers, are stopping buying candy, as are a growing number of students.
“Word is spreading quickly through Bowdoin,” said Bowdoin College shuttle driver Angela Keating, who heard about the bakery from co-worker Jennifer Jacobs. “In no time, I’m taking kids there every night.”
It’s no mystery why college students flock to Kristie, Keating said.
“The cupcakes are just divine,” she said. “I wish I had never found it because it’s really hard to drive by.”
Million dollar bars. Frozen bananas. Cannoli.
Hannah Freeman, student, cake decorator and occasional taste tester, said she was happy to see her mother’s passion become a Brunswick staple.
“Our dream growing up was to have the bakery right around the corner,” she said. “Instead, we just did it here.”
Although the company has made a few recent upgrades, including two cameras to prevent theft of coolers from the bakery stand, Freeman said she’s happy with Kristie’s Creations as it is. After experiencing personal tragedy and professional hardship, bringing a little sweetness to the world is worth more than late nights in the kitchen.
“I love seeing the kids get off on their bikes,” she said. “I love being that neighborhood where grandmas take their kids for a little treat. I spent four years depressed and sad. I just want to make people happy.”
Ray Steen appointed Vice President of Human Resources at Bath Iron Works