Mitten Raised Bakery reopens after move from nearby Okemos
Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate with Katie Lambert's plans for the opening weekend of her pride and joy, Mitten Raised Bakery.
After one false start — Lambert had originally planned to re-open on Jan. 9 but had to reschedule, citing a "terribly honest human mistake" — a snowstorm made for a fairly slow second morning on Sunday.
That didn't mean Lambert was willing to contain her excitement. Mitten Raised, which operated in Okemos until Dec. 23, opened at its new location in Brookfield Plaza on Saturday. Lambert said the move was intended to bring the bakery closer to MSU's student population, as well as prevent issues that can arise from operating in a smaller space, as she did in Okemos.
"We would have groups of moms that would come in and they'd have to pull all the chairs together and they were all standing," Lambert said. "It's like they wanted to come in and hang out there, but there really wasn't much for us to do."
That's a problem Mitten Raised no longer faces — Lambert said she was excited to have been able to find the storefront in Brookfield Plaza because it allowed her to set up a more expansive shop layout.
"We wanted it to be an inviting environment, and then people would be able to sit and eat something, but also be able to do some work if they wanted to," Lambert said. "It's kind of perfect here, if you ask me."
Becky Wisniowiecki, who graduated from MSU in December 2016, said that sort of inviting environment is true for the employees as well.
"Everyone's super happy and positive and it's just a really calm environment to be in," Wisniowiecki said.
Wisniowiecki works the front of the house as a new employee and joined the staff on their first day in East Lansing. She got her degree in graphic design and has been putting it to use at Mitten Raised, designing menus with plans to take on a bigger role with the bakery's Instagram account.
"I've always been baking, and it's kind of been something that I do as a hobby," Wisniowiecki said. "It's been something that I thought as a job, I'd love it, too."
Lambert said she has plenty of experience in both baking and working in restaurants, but having control over the finer aspects of running a business were new to her with Mitten Raised's original opening in May 2017.
"I managed a bakery, so I kind of had the experience of management, but this is definitely a new role from me, being an owner and a manager of so many employees," Lambert said.
Emilee Turner, another Mitten Raised employee, goes to the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in Grand Rapids but chose to do her internship for baking and pastry-making at Mitten Raised. Turner said even though she "loves everything" about baking, her favorite treat to bake are cookies.
While Lambert said she felt donuts were the bakery's signature offering, Turner didn't want the cookies to miss out on the spotlight. In addition to a daily supply of Michigan-shaped cookies Turner called the bakery's "staple cookie," she said Mitten Raised was "trying to keep it fresh and creative" with always-changing cookie designs.
"This weekend, we had the big basketball game (against Purdue) and we put out basketballs, and upcoming for Valentine's Day we've got a bunch of designs," Turner said.
Lambert credits her passion for baking and family support for getting the shop off the ground — she received the legal paperwork for the business as a birthday present from her brother Joe, who is also co-owner and works from Chicago. But she was also quick to sing the praises of her employees for making the re-opening process a smooth transition.
"This is a lot bigger than I had ever envisioned, but all my employees are so great," Lambert said. "I thought our grand opening day was going to be pure chaos, but they all are so smart. They're people people, so it flowed, it just felt right."