Very few of Vicki Cambridge's family and friends were surprised when she decided to open a bakery and coffee house in South Portland in May, since baking has always been one of her passions.
With her two daughters in college and her former career in the insurance industry behind her, the Cape Elizabeth woman finally realized her dream when the Cambridge Coffee Bar and Bakehouse officially opened for business on May 25 on 740 Broadway in South Portland.
"There is really not a lot on this side of the harbor as there is in the Old Port where people can just come and meet," Cambridge says.
Now she is seeing her share of advertising representatives, wedding planners and other professionals regularly meeting with their clients in her coffee bar and plenty of customers picking up a fresh cup of espresso or a cappuccino at the drive-through window. Cambridge says she bakes all of the businesses' pastries, from the scones to the cookies, with as many fresh and organic ingredients as she can muster. "The popovers are our signature item," she says.
The eatery also features homemade lemon curd and lime curd along with homemade fruit jams, maple butter and garlic herb butter. She says the restaurant will start serving light lunch fare this month and feature a menu of eclectic sandwiches, salads and soups.
Cambridge, who learned to cook from her grandmother, says she has "gained a baking reputation in the community, and having a shop of my own was a logical next step."
But opening her business was no small feat, she says.
She says she invested between $50,000 and $80,000 to lease 1,881 square feet from L&J Co. LLC in South Portland, renovate the interior and add the drive-through window. "It cost us three times more than we projected."
Cambridge also employs 12 full- and part-time staff to help her operate the new eatery, and says she is proud to offer jobs for others like her who found themselves without a job as industries like insurance downsized.