Six years ago, Jessica Brooks reluctantly agreed to accompany a friend to a cake-decorating class.
For Brooks, the kitchen was the place where she'd absorbed and continued her grandmother's Pennsylvania Dutch cooking style. Baking had never really fit into that picture.
But something clicked in that cake-decorating class for Brooks, a young mom who'd once aspired to be an artist. As she molded fondant, she remembered what it felt like to work with clay. Decorating cakes reminded her of painting.
"It completely brought the passion back out for me," she said.
Next week, years of honing her baking skills will culminate in the opening of Brooks' very own business - the Ladybug Baking Company and Café at 33 N. Beaver St. in York City.
The Ladybug Baking Company and Café will open for the first time at 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1.
Regular hours at the café will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Brooks, 30, said she's especially hopeful that fellow moms will find the café a relaxing place to grab a bite to eat with the kids. There's a laid-back dining room complete with high chairs and toys for kids.
Brooks has a place and free WiFi for the laptop-toting professional crowd as well.
Baked goods will likely emerge as the cornerstone of Brooks' café. She can bake 45 flavors of cake, after all, and has invented something called the KuppaKake - a cupcake you can eat with a fork.
But, Brooks said, she's also putting her cooking skills to good use.
In addition to muffins, bagels and scones, the breakfast menu includes mouth-watering options like the Florentine frittata and the corned beef hash bake. On the lunch menu are roast pork paninis, tuna melts and chicken tortilla soup, among many others.
Brooks said she expects her menu will evolve as she figures out what customers like.
The café will serve local ingredients "as much as we can," she said.
Brooks said she's excited about the downtown location near Central Market and a blossoming arts district.
"It's kind of the hub," she said. "They have welcomed me with open arms."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.