Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 17, 2022

Two deals illustrate customer’s devotion to Portland bakery

person with boxes of pastries Courtesy / Katie Made Bakery Katie Capron opened Katie Made Bakery in Portland in 2000

A Boston-to-Portland transplant loved the little bakery in her East End neighborhood.

Seven years ago, the devoted customer bought the bakery’s location and became its landlord to help it stay in place.

Recently, she sold the location to the bakery’s owners and their two partners, again to help it stay in place.

The building is home to Katie Made Bakery, which is owned by sisters Jennifer Capron and Katie Capron and sells baked and café items.

“It wasn’t a typical commercial deal where it’s all about the highest price,” said Tom Landry of Benchmark Real Estate. “It’s a feel-good story.”

Sandra Whiston sold 181 Congress St. to the Capron sisters as well as William Zolper and Alejandra Zolper for $550,000.

Landry co-listed the property with Nicholas Whiston, also of Benchmark. The age of the building is unclear, but dates back at least to 1924, according to Historical features include tin ceilings. It was once the Munjoy Hill Market.

brick building exterior
Courtesy / Katie Made Bakery
The owners of Katie Made Bakery, sisters Jennifer and Katie Capron, were part of a partnership that bought the bakery’s location at 181 Congress St. in Portland.

Benchmark hosted three open houses for the property.

“We knew it would draw interest because of its location,” said Nicholas Whiston, who is the son-in-law of the seller, Sandra Whiston, the transplant from Boston who originally took an interest in the bakery.

The listing generated three offers, said Landry.

“A significant part of the criteria when evaluating multiple offers was honoring the current independent business owner,” said Landry. “That was part of the equation.”

The seller “probably could have negotiated a higher price point,” he continued. “But that would not have provided ongoing stability to Katie and Jen. That was part of her desire.”

Landry noted an interesting tangent to the deal was that he and his team are hearing from people looking for space to open their own businesses. 

“It’s this idea of Main Street real estate versus Wall Street real estate, something that’s approachable for that person with a dream of, I can open my own place,’” he said. “We found people writing letters and saying, ‘Hey, my partner is a baker’ or, ‘I always wanted to do this.’ We’re seeing smaller commercial deals where, I think partially because of COVID, people are moving into these smaller markets and saying, ‘Hey, maybe this is the time for us to start our little business that we always wanted to start.’ We certainly saw that here.”

Like ‘Cheers’ for breakfast

Sandra Whiston has an accounting background and worked in the financial services industry throughout her career. She and her husband moved to Portland from Boston in 2009. 

“We lived in Boston many years in Back Bay,” she said. “I had a breakfast joint that I went to pretty much every day. I was very close with the family. We were there with the regulars and everybody just sat at the breakfast bar and talked. It was like ‘Cheers’ for breakfast.”

person with red glasses
Courtesy / Sandra Whiston
Sandi Whiston.

When Whiston moved to Portland, she sought something similar.

At the time, Katie Made was located at 147 Cumberland Ave., near Whiston’s home. Whiston recalled there were some tiny seats near the window.

“I started going there and plunked myself in the window,” she said. “That became my routine.”

Several years later, Katie Made moved to nearby 181 Congress St. 

Whiston helped the sisters with some equipment purchases.

“I wasn’t going to lose out on these people,” she said. “So I helped them a little bit with that.”

About a year later, 181 Congress St. was listed for sale. 

Whiston talked with a real estate broker — also a Katie Made regular — about buying 181 Congress St., with the idea that she would become Katie Made’s landlord and ensure its continued occupancy.

“I bought the store because I wanted them to be there and they didn’t have the money themselves,” she said.

In 2021, as prices surged, Whiston talked with the Capron sisters about selling the property.

“They were understanding and good with it,” she says.

She then approached her son-in-law, Nicholas Whiston, about listing the building.

Still, it was important to Whiston that the Capron sisters be able to stay if that’s what they wanted. So any agreement with a buyer would include a provision to stabilize their rent for a certain period of time.

Offers came in right away, including from a cash buyer.

Then Jennifer Capron sent Whiston note saying she and her sister, along with their neighbors, William and Alejandra Zolper, wanted to buy it.

2 people with pastries
Courtesy / Katie Made Bakery
Sisters Katie and Jennifer Capron.

“I spoke with Tom [Landry], we said no to the cash buyer and we structured the deal,” said Whiston. “I was greatly relieved that they were going to be okay.”

She added, “They’re important people to me. I could have gotten more money, but it was the right ending.”

Building a community

Katie Capron started Katie Made in 2000 as a wholesale bakery at 147 Cumberland Ave. Jennifer eventually joined her. Together, they expanded to include retail. 

“It really took off,” said Jennifer. “We really built our community in that location. Most of our customers became good friends and we’re still friends today.”

The space at 147 Cumberland Ave. was about 500 square feet and had four little window seats.

Capron recalled when Whiston first started coming in.

“She had just moved up here from Boston and she walked in one day and was like, ‘This is my place!’” said Capron. “Literally ever since then, we’ve been great friends. We know all of her family and her grandkids.”

interior with tin ceiling
Courtesy / Katie Made Bakery
Window seats and tin ceilngs are a feature in the store, which dates back at least a century.

After 13 years in that location, the Caprons became aware that a larger lease space at 181 Congress St. would soon be vacant. It comprised a 1,200-square-foot ground floor and a 1,200-square-foot basement that could be used for storage. 

“We jumped on it,” said Jennifer Capron. 

Then that moment came a year later when 181 Congress St. was listed for sale.

“Katie and I didn’t think it was financially possible for us to buy it ourselves,” said Capron. “We had just taken out other loans.”

That’s when Sandra Whiston bought it and became Katie Made’s new landlord.

“The whole time, she’s been like our mentor,” said Capron. “She’s a great businesswoman and a good friend. And she continued to pop in for coffee and breakfast.”

Neighbors and partners

When Whiston decided to sell the property last year, the Caprons weren’t sure what they would do.

“We had a couple of meetings with her and tried to figure out what our plan would be,” said Capron. “We hadn’t discussed buying it at that point. Katie and I are small business owners. We didn’t think that buying it would be financially possible, honestly, just the two of us.”

But the Caprons had become great friends with their neighbors, the Zolpers.

2 adults, baby and dog
Courtesy / Zolper Family
Alejandra and William Zolper.

The Zolpers own a South Portland franchise called B. Good and Lupita’s Taqueria at 15 Exchange St. in Portland. They also own a three-unit apartment building that’s tucked onto an adjoining parcel to the rear of the Katie Made building. The four partners said the two buildings were once considered one property.

The Zolpers got in on the discussions and the Zolpers and Caprons decided to split the acquisition 50/50.

“We said, ‘We’ve known each other so long. Let’s write up the agreement and we’ll keep in touch,’” said Bill Zolper.

“It seemed like the perfect scenario that we all do it together,” said Capron. 

Capron credited the Zolpers as being the more business-savvy half of the partnership.

“We built this as our job and our community,” she said of Katie Made. “It’s an extension of our own home.”

The deal was financed through a loan with cPort Credit Union.

A line up the street

Some improvements might be on tap, but not immediately, said Capron. That could include restoring two stories that were destroyed in a fire a couple of generations back. 

Before the pandemic, Katie Made’s wholesale customers included Portland Stage Co. and corporate parties. The wholesale business dropped off but retail has been doing well. 

“There’s a line up the street during the summer,” said Capron.

The bakery has been closed to dine-in business for nearly two years now, but customers can enter to order and pay. Dining is also available on an outdoor patio. For Thanksgiving alone, Katie baked well over 200 pies. Over the past 20 years, the business has never closed for more than a week or two and it’s never shut down for the winter. 

“I just wanted to include an important part of the business side of the story,” added Capron. “Our lease was up at the end of December. Katie Made Bakery would have had to vacate this building and neighborhood that we love and have called home for many years had a different buyer worked out.”

She continued, “This partnership of neighbors enabled the two buildings to stay together and also enabled Katie Made to stay for as long as we want. We had to get creative in this crazy real estate market.”

Sign up for Enews


E Longstaff Lewis
January 21, 2022

Such a great story! Bruce and I have frequented Katie's many times over the years and then Covid hit, and we have spent less time going out. Delighted to have this update as their egg sandwiches, salads and desserts are the very best. Wishing much success with your new partnership! Hard work and determination work every time. Hona Longstaff & Bruce Lewis.

Order a PDF