Popular Coquette Bake Shop Moving; Winslow Mall to Undergo Major Makeover

Coquette logo courtesy of Coquette websiteCoquette – one of the island’s favorite, little bakeries – is on the move.

Jerry Childers, owner of Coquette Bake Shop, now housed in a tiny kiosk in the Winslow Mall, is planning to relocate his business – on or about this coming Valentine’s Day – in a space previously occupied by the Red Cedar Café in the Winslow Green.

Coquette has been located in Winslow Mall – smack in the middle of Downtown Winslow – since 2016. Hoping to consolidate his operations, Childers jumped at the chance to take over the spot once occupied by the iconic Bainbridge BakersCoquette Winslow Mall image by Kevin Dwyerand now owned by Nick and Peg Nickum – when it became available last fall.

Meanwhile, the new owners of the Winslow Mall are planning a major overhaul of the historic shopping center. Some 15 months ago, John and Shawna Fisher purchased the Mall for a reported $7.2 million.

The Fishers, who now split their time between their Bainbridge Island home and London, have hired local architect Matthew Coates to create some design concepts. In initial plans that were unveiled last summer, the shopping center would be gussied up with an atrium-looking ceiling, new floors and storefront doors, a food court, additional square footage, and other amenities. Over the years, the Mall has been home to a number of well-known retail businesses, including Teriyaki Town, Pretty Stick, Eagle Harbor Wine Co., Blinx Clothing and others. The couple is submitting its plans for permitting in the next month or so, with re-construction likely to be completed in a year or so.

Besides his kiosk location, Childers also rents a commercial kitchen in the Mall – once occupied by West Side Pizza – as well as two apartments, where two of his employees currently reside.

Jerry Childers Coquette Bakery image by Kevin Dwyer“I think Jerry runs a great business operation, and has a great product,” says John Fisher. “If anyone can find success, it’s Jerry and Coquette. He’s trading locations for a better operating space.”

Childers agrees. “The silver-lining in all this is that when one door closes another door opens,” he says. “I’m in the business of bringing joy to people’s lives one latte and one croissant at a time… I’ll be fine here.”

Childers, and his former wife, Tristan, started Coquette borrowing recipe ideas and formatting concepts from bakeries and Farmers Markets they frequented first in the Bay Area, and then in southern Oregon. They actually ran their own bakery out of a barn near Jacksonville, OR. – with Tristan handling the baking and Jerry doing the marketing – for some five years before migrating north to Bainbridge.

“We had low overhead down there and bought most of our restaurant equipment, used or on Craigs List,” Childers remembers. “We had a pretty nice lifestyle.” A former teacher, Childers subbed in the Jacksonville schools to get a taste of the academic environment for his two twin sons. The schools “weren’t bad, but they weren’t good” either, he says.

Good schools and the opportunity to move into a family house in Rolling Bay attracted the couple to Bainbridge, which they had visited many times before. After selling their business and doing a bit of “house swap” with Tristan’s in-laws on the island, the Childers’ moved to Bainbridge around 2013.

Not long after, Jerry found himself eying the local bakery scene. Bainbridge Bakers was a going concern back then, and Blackbird Bakery was a well-established island institution, and still maintains that reputation. What was missing? A cart “like the ones you see in a Paris train station,” Childers recalls thinking to himself when the image first struck him.

He met with Jeb Thornberg of Indigo Architecture & Interiors and eventually Coquette’s cute, diminutive “shack idea” was born. “Jeb came up with it,” Childers says. “It put us on the map.”

New Coquette location in Winslow Green image by Kevin DwyerCoquette’s new location in the Winslow Green – which has housed several restaurants since Bainbridge Bakers closed its doors several years back – is being completely retrofitted for the bakery, including new flooring, seating, lighting and paint. The 2,000- square-foot space will include a commercial kitchen and hood and exhaust system that will allow Childers to expand his menu.

“This kitchen will be able to do a little bit more,” he says. The bakery will continue to offer its usual fare of éclairs, macaroons, cinnamon rolls, cheese bars, and the like, along with its espresso drinks and coffee. Childers is planning to add breakfast sandwiches and bagels, and other goodies to the morning menu, and sandwiches, soups and possibly salads for lunch.

Coquette remodelAt the start, he says, “we’re going with what we know and are able to do without (having) to add more staff.” Even in its larger setting, the bakery’s employees will continue to do what they always do, Childers explains, “prep everything the afternoon before and start baking at 4 a.m. (the next morning), so it’s ready by 8 a.m.”

Childers says he owes a huge debt of gratitude to local contractor Bill Nelson, who “stepped in and helped design and deconstruct” the existing infrastructure at the new location at little or no cost. “He’s doing it for coffee whenever he wants,” Childers says, trying to suppress a huge grin.

Coquette remodel in Winslow Green image by Kevin DwyerPart of the new look and feel of Coquette will be the installation of acoustic ceiling panels to muffle sound, so patrons can “even whisper and still have a conversation,” as well as new bar stools and a community table, where people can eat and drink Bavarian style.

If things go well, down the road, Childers envisions applying for a liquor license, so he can serve wine, beer and other adult beverages, to go along with fancy cheese plates. “We’re still a work in progress,” says. For more on Coquette visit: https://www.coquettebakeshop.com/

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