Little Jimmie's Bakery Gains a Devoted Following
The new spot opened in December and already has lots of fans.
It's pretty clear that Little Jimmie's Bakery has come pretty far in the month or so that it's been open.
"We're about to send these off to Chicago," baker and co-owner Jimmie Reed said on Thursday as he held up a large tray of chocolate brownies. Customers, he said, have tasted the confections created and baked by Reed and Lora Little, who also owns Little Jimmie's, and have already started requesting shipments. (The bakery's name is a play off of their two names.)
Little and Reed have also built up a devoted following since December at their location at 6669 Germantown Ave., where they turn out Rice Krispies treats, white chocolate brownies, raspberry bars, lemony desserts, grapefruit cupcakes and a much-loved hot chocolate. Homemade soups, sandwiches and other lunch-type items are also on the menu.
Everything is made inside the small kitchen that sits behind the bar where Little and Reed work. They've brought baked goods to various neighborhood residents along the way—they took a pie to firefighters at the fire house down the street—and have worked to build up a solid word of mouth following.
They can count Springer Street residents Christina Owings and Valmir De Souza Silva among their fans. The two reflected on their feelings about the new Mt. Airy establishment as they sat at a corner table there Thursday.
Owings and De Souza Silva had known the bakery was going to be coming for some time, and were looking forward to its arrival. They weren't let down, and have a particular soft spot for its coffee cakes.
"Usually when you have anticipation, you're kind of disappointed," Owings said. "But this is our choice of places to come for lunch."
Mt. Airy USA Executive Director Anuj Gupta, for his part, has called it "the best bakery in Philadelphia."
Little and Reed met when they were both working for Chipotle in the New York City market (the two were both driving up there from Philadelphia while they were working there). They had both worked in food service and catering for the bulk of their adult lives but wanted something more.
"Working in a restaurant, or always being with food, or always cooking something for your entire life—you always want something of your own someday," Little said.
The two started doing catering under the Little Jimmie's name in February 2011. Reed lives in Mt. Airy, so they were often in the area. They also spent a lot of time at a test kitchen of sorts at Little's home in New Jersey, tasting and tweaking their original recipes and adding a quarter teaspoon of this and that to them.
"I got so sick of eating sandwiches and pasta," Reed said with a laugh.
Friends would also accept the baked goods they would make in their test kitchen and try them out as well.
Reed and Little would often pass the building at 6669 Germantown Ave. when they were hanging around Mt. Airy. It's an old, 17th century one-room schoolhouse owned by the nearby St. Michael's Lutheran Church, and when they saw a lease sign out front they decided to take a look.
"Once we saw the inside of it, that was it," Little said. "It was like falling in love with a pet."
It took some time to get all the zoning issues sorted out with the space, but that eventually worked itself out. They painted the wall with various quotations and sayings in an effort to maintain the schoolhouse's charm and came up with a floor plan on their own.
There's a grassy space in the back of the schoolhouse building, and the pair plans to put outdoor seating there when it gets warm out. They also hope to have a garden outdoors as well.
Little and Page are loving their new, bakery-driven lives, even if it means they don't get a ton of time off (Christmas was their first day off in a long time).
In terms of their baked goods, their philosophy is a simple one.
"If we really love it, someone else will love it too," Little said.
Little Jimmie's Bakery, 6669 Germantown Ave. Open Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 215-849-2947.