I had the joy of sitting with Elise Richer, owner of Tin Pan Bakery in the Nason’s Corner neighborhood and chatting about her bright, cheery bakery that opened in late 2016. Nason’s Corner is a sleepy are in outer Portland bordered by the Fore River Sanctuary, the Evergreen Cemetery, and Westbrook. She makes what I would argue is the best chocolate chip cookie in the Portland area (and there are some truly fantastic contenders!). In fact, just before we began our meeting around 8:30 am, a gentleman entered the bakery and proclaimed “I hear you have the best chocolate chip cookies in town! How many do you have? I’ll take them all.” Clearly the word is out!
Q: What brought you to Nason’s Corner for your business?
A: I found just the right space. I have a great landlord who I can really work with, and the neighbors in this little strip are really great. And I love being near the schools!
Q: What inspired you to do what you do?
A: I liked and believed in my prior work but hated being the office all day. I started working at a cake store part-time a guy who had been a government lawyer. We each had experienced the same thing: when you handed someone a cake, their whole face lights up. I decided that this was what I wanted to pursue and moved back up to New England.
Q: Tell me about your cookbook, Always in Season (2013).
A: There are a few baking recipes in there, but it was mostly focused on vegetables. I have much more bakery training and my interest was always with this. We do make roasted hand pies, and I do miss the seasonal aspect of vegetables, but people really do love their cookies.
Q: What is your “stranded on a desert island” baked good?
A: Chocolate chip cookies! I‘m a chocolate person.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to a small business owner looking to start in the Portland area?
A: Be flexible with your plan. I worked with the USM Development Center who said you’re going to work hard on your initial business plan and then throw it away! You’ve got to listen [to your clientele].
Q: Is there a secret to your chocolate chip cookies that you’d share?:
A: All recipes are pretty basic. Melt the butter, chill your dough, and use REALLY good chocolate.
Q: What do you love most about this neighborhood?
A: People are so nice here and very supportive!
Thank you so much, Elise! (Interview with Elise Richer; By Kristine Trogner)