Patrick Robinson
Jodi Baker, owner of Coffee to a Tea with Sugar/Sugar Rush Baking Company closed the coffee shop and bakery June 9 as part of her long term plan to run it and then move on to something new.

It's a happy transition for Coffee to a Tea and Jodi Baker; Space will become Terra Cole Butchery and Fine Foods

For nine years, Jodi Baker would get up as early as 4am to get to work at Coffee to a Tea with Sugar/Sugar Rush Baking Company (CTS-SRBC), a business she owned in the West Seattle Junction at 4541 California Ave SW. On Sunday, June 9 she brought it to a close. But not because was forced by lack of business. It was all part of her plan from the beginning.

"I had a ten year plan to sell the business and it just happened a little faster than I thought it was going to. Ten years is a long time to be 24/7 in one space, one area. I had a great run." She simply believes it was time to let go. "As I let go I can feel the layers lifting getting lighter and lighter. It's a great feeling."

She sold it to, Tim Mitchell and Ashli Brown who will open (targeting Aug.1) Terra Cole Butchery and Fine Foods. The couple will have a meat counter and a soup and sandwich counter as well. "The idea is to more efficiently use the Harvest," Mitchell said. They will create stocks and soups in house, then sauce and sauce derivatives. Mitchell, who is a former chef said they plan on adding a smoker to the kitchen (depending on feasibility and mechanical) to smoke their own bacon. That's all part of the transition as they convert the kitchen to their purposes. Brown is the managing partner for the business. "I'm hoping to ride the trend of re-introducing the neighborhood butchery," Mitchell said.

They will offer custom meat cutting and will rely on sources within 300 miles. They have plans to offer their own lines of barbecue sauces, dressings, seasoning rubs and marinades at some point too. "If you buy a specific cut of meat we will ladle in the marinade or we'll dry rub it for you so by the time you get home it will be ready for the oven or the grill."

They live in West Seattle and Baker said, "They are going to be incredible stewards of the building."

For Baker, "It's all incredibly positive. I'm going to quasi-retire for a little while, take the summer off and relax in my garden." Following that her plans are unclear but she may travel and has interest in exploring urban farming. She belongs to a group of women business owners and is interested in mentoring women who want to own their own business. She may open another business at some point because she loves being a business owner but not right now, "mostly likely nothing in the retail sector."

At its peak the business employed 11 people.

She became a baker almost by default. She opened it with a partner, Shannon Jenson, "who was the baking half," who departed for another career "four years in."

Even so she doesn't consider herself a professional baker. They were turning out four to five thousand cupcakes plus wedding cakes over a weekend. She and her team once filled an order for ten thousand cookies in two days. "We were a little powerhouse," she said.

During the CTS-SRBC tenure, Baker came to know many people and always intended to make the business an oasis where technology, while permitted, was not the point of being there. "I had people who had their first date here and then we did their wedding cake, then we did their first child's birthday cake. We had the boys who played cribbage, almost every morning since we opened. We had a group of seniors who met here since we opened."

"Everybody's sad to see us go," she said, but they wish us well."

Baker is proudest of the fact that, "I was able to provide West Seattle with a space to meet. That was huge for me. So much energy and so many great things happened. West Seattle is amazing."

She said she will miss the regulars but won't miss getting up early, "and i won't miss the early am phone call to say something is wrong."

Her former employees are already launched with three that have started their own business including Wendy Benoit, the cake decorator whose business will be in West Seattle.

The best part of her time here? "The people, my staff, and West Seattle."

Baker concluded, "Thank you West Seattle. Thank you to all the people who worked here and for all the things i got to be a part of."

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