When Molly Ott bought Corina Bakery in 2008, she didn’t think all that much about the stairs that separated the bakery from the storefront – until she had to maneuver 80-pound wedding cakes and 50-pound bags of flour up and down those stairs.
She also didn’t anticipate she would grow the bakery so successfully that she would outgrow the small footprint in less than four years.
Two weeks ago, she packed up the bakery near the corner of South Sixth Avenue and Tacoma Avenue South and moved down below – mere steps away – to a larger space next door to The Grand Cinema.
Ott – along with her husband, Mike, and a crew of bakers and baristas – opened for business Feb. 23 in a combo space that formerly was two separate businesses: a restaurant called Minoela and an art gallery called Mavi. The space is bigger and airier than Corina’s old locale, and there are no more stairs to negotiate.
While Corina’s former location was small, cozy and warmly appointed with vibrant colors, the new space feels much more of a blank slate. That’s by design, said Ott, who has invited an artist to display his paintings on the stark walls.
The new bakery is washed with natural light from the expansive front windows, and it is much more friendly to larger groups with a conference table in the back that seats at least eight and can be reserved. The espresso station and bakery display case are front and center upon entry, with a long hallway lined with bench seating for laptop users. (Electrical outlets were just installed to make the space more convenient.) To the left is a room with a checkerboard floor that will serve as the wedding cake consultation and tasting area (by appointment). Right in the center of the space is the walled-off bakery – its presence made known by the aroma of baked goods whenever the door to the kitchen opens.
When Ott purchased the bakery from Walter and Jessica Gaya (they opened it in January 2006), she had to change the name, so she added “bistro” to the title – but it never became one.
“We thought we’d offer it as a bistro and serve liquor and wine, but it did so well on its own merit as a dessert bakery, I left it alone,” Ott said.But now, with the move? “We recognized the clients at Grand Cinema may want light fare. We’ve only been open a week, we’ve been bursting at the seams with the increased volume and we’ve been trying to manage it.”For those diners wanting to grab a meal before a trip to the Grand for a movie, Ott said sometime in the near future she will offer savory items such as pot pies, cheese tarts (a bakery version of a pizza), savory stuffed brioche and a layered sandwich made from the bakery’s focaccia.“We’ll also do a Grand pretzel – a beautiful, large, soft pretzel served with mustard or a special sauce,” Ott said.
Still on the menu will be take-out desserts that have made Corina a dessert bakery staple in Tacoma, much like Celebrity Cake Studio, a longtime dessert and cake bakery that recently moved, too (from Freighthouse Square to 26th).
Corina fans will still find the things I love about Corina: house-made banana pudding layered with Nilla wafers, coffee-flavored brownies made with Tacoma’s Valhalla coffee (the espresso served there also is Valhalla), fragrant cinnamon rolls and the revolving daily flavors of scones and cakes. The bakery will continue offering gluten-free baked goods.
Will the bakery grow to a dinner house or a full-fledged bistro? Probably not in the short term. Ott said she has to maintain a bustling wholesale business serving pastries at coffee houses such as Bluebeard, Metronome and Satellite Coffee, and also create bakery items for restaurants such as Marrow, Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge, 1022 South and Chambers Bay Grill.
Corina BakeryWhere: 602 S. Fawcett Ave., TacomaContact: 253-627-5070 or corinabakery.comHours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 9 a.m.6 p.m. SundayFive things to try at Corina: Banana pudding, a Valhalla coffee-flavored brownie, a cinnamon roll, scones and the daily cupcake (Guinness is one of my favorites)
Our pledge to diners: Sue Kidd dines anonymously and all meals are paid for by The News Tribune. Reach her at: 253-597-8270 firstname.lastname@example.org.