This North Providence Bakery Offers Fun Twists on Childhood Classics

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Syroya’s Bakery, the town’s only Black, woman-owned bakery, recently relocated to Mineral Spring Ave from Pawtucket.

In an unassuming storefront on Mineral Spring Ave, a newly expanded bakery is serving up big flavors and family recipes.

Syroya Eugene recently opened Syroya’s Bakery at 1860 Mineral Spring Ave in North Providence. The bakery was previously located in a smaller location in the Still on Main shopping mall in downtown Pawtucket.

Eugene is a former clinical lab scientist with East Side Clinical Laboratory and a University of Rhode Island graduate with a background in science. Baking was not in her original career plan — instead, the passion grew from baking treats for family and friends.

“My love of baking started about eleven years ago when I did my son’s first birthday cake,” she says during an interview in the brightly lit shop. “Baking has always been in my family. My grandmother was a from-scratch baker. She made all of our stuff. I love sweets, so some of my recipes are handed down from her as well.”

Those recipes include her pie crust along with Nana’s Nut Cups, handheld mini pies topped with pecans and walnuts. Eugene says pies are her favorite thing to bake. Her pumpkin pie features real roasted pumpkin, while Southern classics like sweet potato pie and pecan pie are popular sellers. Baked goods are prepared fresh daily, with Eugene often waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning to arrive at the shop by 4.

“I go to bed before my kids do,” she says.

In addition to pies, she offers a variety of specialty cakes available for purchase on her website and takes orders for wedding and special occasion cakes. Visitors to the shop will typically find a selection of cupcakes and other small treats available for purchase. Eugene also prepares chocolate chip and turtle cookies, though she cautions these sell out quickly. Recent cupcake flavors include maple bacon and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

“I usually have an assortment of between nine to twelve cupcakes and cheesecakes, and then I’ll do specials, something that I may not do every day of the week, whether it’s cookies, banana bread, this week I’m trying to add in little mini pies,” she says. “I have my classic flavors, and then I like to add in a special flavor for the week.”

Her bestselling cupcake? The strawberry crunch, a take on a childhood classic.

“It reminds you of the ice cream truck. It’s a strawberry cupcake with vanilla buttercream, and then it’s topped with a strawberry crunch crumble. I drizzle it with homemade strawberry sauce and a fresh strawberry slice,” she says.

After discovering her passion for baking, Eugene followed a roundabout path to arrive at today’s shop. In 2016, she joined Hope and Main, an incubator kitchen in Warren, to learn the ins and outs of running a business. She enjoyed the experience but had to put her plans on hold to focus on family and her job. Then, in 2020, an opportunity arose to rent space in Pawtucket’s Still and Main. She leased a space beginning in April but, due to the pandemic, couldn’t open for another six months.

“I opened in October, and I resigned from my job at the end of October because it was really busy,” she recalls.

The business was successful — so successful, in fact, that she quickly outgrew the space and began looking for another closer to her home in Providence. The Mineral Spring Ave location caught the eye of her mom (“and you always listen to the advice of your mom,” she adds). She closed her Pawtucket location in February and, after a lengthy renovation process, reopened in North Providence last month.

“It’s surreal, to be honest,” she says. “Each and every day I come in here, it means so much to me because it’s been a journey for me. It’s been a lot of hard work.”

With the opening of the new shop, Eugene is now the proud owner of the only Black, woman-owned bakery in North Providence. Small affirmations and reminders fill the space, including a portrait of Edna Lewis, the famous chef and cookbook author, hanging above the counter.

“Being a woman of color, it’s definitely something that I’m very proud of,” she says. “To be able to encourage other women, and then other women of color, that to start a business — it’s OK. You can push forward. It’s not as hard as we think. And even with a lot of obstacles that we have in society, we can continue to grow, and we can be business owners.”

Except for a few online classes, Eugene is completely self-taught. She has dreams of traveling to Paris and Italy to study European pastry techniques. For now, her plans are a little closer to home: A mural is in the works for one of the shop’s walls, and she plans to begin offering breakfast pastries and a self-serve coffee station in the new year.

“The community has been so amazing and embracing me and what I have to offer. I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to be in North Providence,” she says.

Syroyas’s Bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pre-orders are available online. syroyasbakery.com

Source: https://www.rimonthly.com/this-north-providence-bakery-offers-fun-twists-on-childhood-classics/