The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 19, 2012

Wild Flour Bakery's new owner is whipping up a fresh batch

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

FAYETTEVILLE — A new family of bakers recently relaunched Wild Flour Bakery in Fayetteville, keeping the cafe’s standby treats like cream horns and cake balls, while adding some specialties of their own.

The bakery recently shut down for a week of remodeling, as new owner Jennifer Salvatore and her family worked around the clock to paint, upgrade and make the space their own.

Salvatore says she has had plenty of help from her family as she begins this new chapter in life.

Her stepfather, Terry Wade, made a beautiful wooden counter and is in the process of creating handmade tabletops. He and Salvatore’s mother, Suzanne Johnson, also work in the kitchen. A brother-in-law likewise lent a hand with his electrical skills.

“I had a lot of little experts to help. We did it all ourselves and everybody pitched in,” she says.

The family is no stranger to the lunch counter. They used to own and run a local Dairy Queen.

“This sort of takes us back to those days when we dove right in,” she says.

The business is Salvatore’s first venture since she quit work after her second daughter, Addison, 5, was born.

For the last several years, she has been baking cakes on the side for family and friends, using a recipe for buttercream icing passed down from her aunt. Eventually she was approached about selling them, which she did, successfully.

Previous Wild Flour owners, Angela and Lee Smith, knew of Salvatore’s baking reputation and approached her about buying the business.

At the time, Salvatore was weighing all options. She wanted to get back into the work force, but didn’t want to drive all the way to Charleston for employment.

“That’s when this came to me,” she says. “I thought it might be a good fit. They had a great business and I just saw a lot of potential.

“It was a big leap,” she says. Prayer and a sense that “things were falling into place” allowed her to make the move, but there were other considerations as well.

“I also have to think about my girls’ schedules with school. We’re open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., so it fits pretty well into their day.”

At least that’s the plan. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way so far, but the business is only a week old and Salvatore says right now she’s “just learning the ropes.”

“Just starting out is overwhelming, but it’s getting there,” she says.

Salvatore, a resident of Fayetteville since 1979, bought the recipes, name, and logo for the business from the Smiths, who recently moved to Johnson City, Tenn., where they plan to open another bakery.

Some of the recipes at Wild Flour were handed down from Angela Smith’s grandmother, says Salvatore, and others were developed and tested by the previous owners. The blueberry cream cheese coffeecake remains a popular treat.

“And then we’ve already changed and added and are developing our own,” she says. “What I’m calling my signature cupcake is the buttercream, which is the whole reason I was really baking and getting into this.”

The recipe for the rich, melt-in-your-mouth topping is a family secret.

“I’ve always enjoyed baking,” says Salvatore. “When I was a teenager, I was the one who baked in the family.”

Wild Flour does a brisk lunch business in the center of the county seat, across from the courthouse, bank, post office and other landmarks. Fayetteville’s professionals flock there for sandwiches and hot dogs on the fly.

Salvatore says it’s good for working people who just need a quick lunch. Some come in multiple times a week, even daily.

In addition to the sandwich combos and homemade chili dogs, the owner has been experimenting with specials for variety.

Salvatore says the most rewarding aspect of business ownership so far has been meeting so many people in the community from behind the counter.

In addition to sweet treats and lunchtime savories, Wild Flour also serves specialty coffee drinks and breakfast sandwiches.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com