Two local bakeries ended 2019 with closed signs on their doors.
After almost nine years in business, Mom’s Homemade Pies closed on New Year’s Eve, and Gingerbread House Bakery, which was taken over by its latest owners two years ago, announced its closure last Monday.
Mom’s Homemade Pies
At the hands of the son of the Puckett’s Pies founders, Dave Puckett opened the doors to his own pie shop alongside his wife, Alyona, in February 2011 on South LaFountain Street.
Puckett was between jobs at the time, and his wife, remembering the pies her husband’s family used to make, suggested he start his own pie business.
“Puckett’s Pies were so well-loved and popular by the community that we decided we could do that, too,” Puckett said. “So we opened up, and it was just good timing at that time. It was enjoyable to us.”
His mom, the late Barbara Puckett, opened Puckett’s Pies in 1988 in the Forest Park shopping plaza, and Puckett grew up learning how to bake her recipes. He always enjoyed it, he said. When he opened his shop, Mom’s Homemade Pies, he used the basis of his mom’s recipes, but he tweaked every single one so that his business also would have its own signature pies.
Barbara still was alive when her son opened his shop, and she was able to taste-test every recipe.
“We wanted to change them enough so that they would truly be Mom’s Homemade Pies, so they’re all our recipes,” he said. “[My mom] was in here when we started this, and she tested everything. So it had mom’s stamp of approval.”
Puckett’s Pies closed after 20 years in business in 2008, though the pies later were sold by Puckett’s brother at a small café on Apperson Way. But, in 2011, Puckett said he had the market as far as made-from-scratch pies.
Soon after opening, he and Alyona were pushing out hundreds of pies a month, and that later grew to thousands of pies per month. They more than tripled in sales from originally. At its peak, the Pucketts supplied seven central Indiana grocery stores as well, and they most recently were supplying four.
It was a labor of love. For years, they had a good core staff that helped them keep up with the demand.
However, within the past two years, the Pucketts said a lot began to change, and a number of factors resulted in their decision to shut down the business. Finding good, reliable employees became harder, for one.
“A couple years ago, we had five employees, plus [Alyona] and I,” said Puckett. “So there were seven people. We’re still producing the same number of pies. It means we work 14 to 16 hours a day instead of eight, and that for the past two years, since we lost our employees, is too much physically for us. We can’t do that.”
Other issues, such as having a harder time with suppliers, factored in as well. So, at the end of 2019, the couple decided to close this chapter in their lives. They said they intend to take the month of January to figure out what they want to do next; they’re too young to retire, Puckett said.
Puckett said he enjoyed his time at Mom’s Homemade Pies and the customers he got to know along the way.
“We love our customers. We love any customers that come in the door because one lady said, ‘It’s not just good pies you’re selling. You’re selling happiness. These pies make people happy.’ I thought that was awesome,” Puckett said.
Gingerbread House Bakery
A dream came true for Teresa Gascho when she and her then-fiancé Seth Gascho purchased Gingerbread House Bakery when it came up for sale in January 2017.
The established business had been located in downtown Kokomo on Buckeye Street since its former owners moved to the spot in 2014. Teresa’s daughter, Morgan, had been working at the quaint bakery that was known for its doughnuts, candy, and cakes, and they both had a sweet tooth for everything that came out of the kitchen.
So, when Morgan came home one day and told her mom that the business was for sale, Teresa and Seth decided they would take it over. Owning a bakery was a longtime dream of Teresa’s, said Seth during an interview in 2017.
It was something Seth came to love too. He always had worked in construction, and the contrast between the types of work was welcomed.
“It’s a total change of lifestyle. You know the things that I see and the kids that I see come into the store, that is life-changing in itself just to see the smile and the eyes go really big on a kid’s face and their eyes when they come in the door and go, ‘Can I have that?’ It’s the little things like a free cookie here and there that you give a kid, and it’s like you made their whole day,” Seth said.
The couple continued to push treats through their doors until the end of last month.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 30, the couple announced that Gingerbread House Bakery was closed permanently.
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce that The Gingerbread House Bakery has permanently closed,” read the post. “Our cake decorator extraordinaire will continue to make her awesome creations - cakes, cupcakes, decorated cookies, etc. Please contact Ana at Mahalie29@gmail.com and she will be very happy to help you! We would like to sincerely thank all of you who have supported us during our journey with the Gingerbread House. We have put our hearts and souls into the bakery and we couldn't have done it without our awesome and loyal customers. There is a season for all things, and the bakery's season has come to an end. God bless each of you... Seth and Teresa Gascho.”