Laurie and John Sutton are stirring up a buzz by taking their bakery, which specializes in French pastries and breads, to a whole new level at a brand-new location. As the owners of Bananas + Beehives, the couple pivoted their bakery business in the last two years from retail only to retail and wholesale and then moved it to Woodstock, where they offer a shared kitchen concept—That Borrowed Kitchen—to other bakers.

Couple Cooks Up Dream Baking Business

Laurie and John’s journey began in 2021 when a local business approached them to provide wholesale baking. At the time they were located in historic downtown Canton in a storefront on North Street where they served up a menu of delightful baked goods and treats, along with hosting fun-filled events.

In February 2023 the couple closed the Canton bakery to walk-in business and in July moved from Canton to the Woodstock area. Now Bananas + Beehives continues to offer pastries, events, and catering at its new location, 1600 River Park Boulevard, Suite 101, in Woodstock. The bakery also provides wholesale baked goods to a long list of local eateries and coffee shops.

“Being asked to do wholesale baking really changed the trajectory of our vision, and we kind of loved it. It helped us to get more involved with other local businesses as well as the community. We started off back in 2020 offering cookies and croissants, and our menu grew as we grew. Now we typically work with our retail and wholesale customers to create pastry based on their needs and try not to limit our offerings to a specific menu,” Laurie explains.

For retail orders Bananas + Beehives customers can call Laurie or email an order and set up a pickup time. “For our in-house events, such as birthday parties or showers, we send out an information sheet when an inquiry comes in, and events can be booked directly through us,” Laurie says.

Photo Credit: Jaye Grimes/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine

Bananas + Beehives and That Borrowed Kitchen are located at 1600 River Park Boulevard, Suite 101, in Woodstock.

In addition, the store’s new companion business, That Borrowed Kitchen, offers day rentals of a shared commercial kitchen for those who don’t have access or may not have the capital to invest in their own private commercial kitchens. The commercial kitchen includes a prep area, ovens, equipment, and spaces such as dry, refrigerated, and freezer space. “Tenants can also hold classes and other small events in our facility,” Laurie points out. “Our target market would be anyone in need of a commercial kitchen for their small-business needs. We are currently building out the website for That Borrowed Kitchen. On the website there will be an application page as well an information page for those interested.”

Bananas + Beehives Takes Flight

Bananas + Beehives and That Borrowed Kitchen are a dream come true for Laurie, a New Orleans transplant, and husband, John. For Laurie it began with a lifelong love of baking and the desire to share her passion for baking. “I come from a long line of cooks and bakers. For as long as I can remember I have loved baking. I love the challenge of it.” Laurie reminisces, “When I was younger I loved to help my mother cook, and when she was finished, she would let me have the kitchen to bake. I would be in my own little world.”

After Laurie met and married the love of her life while he was in the U.S. Navy and stationed in New Orleans, the couple moved back to John’s home state of Florida. Eventually his career brought him to north Georgia, which is when the two discovered Cherokee County.

Laurie chose the name Bananas + Beehives for her shop after seeing it in a blog. She decided originally that it fit her plan to be flexible in what she offers daily at the bakery, rather than tying her to one product, and as she expands the scope of the business, it continues to fit. “First, when we started, I was going to offer croissants and cookies, and it just grew into what it has become today,” she says.

Regulars and new customers alike fall in love with Laurie’s wide assortment of croissants. The croissants, both savory and sweet, are offered in a variety of flavors, including almond, chocolate, feta and spinach, and plain. Cookies continue to be a fan favorite as well. Laurie says cookies are a favorite of hers and her customers, and it was the first recipe she developed and perfected. For her cookies she starts with a base of vanilla, oatmeal, or peanut butter and adds ingredients to stir up everything from chocolate chip to dark chocolate strawberry to marshmallow fruity cereal to chocolate-covered espresso-bean cookies.

Grazing boards are becoming an increasingly popular choice of Bananas + Beehives customers. Similar to a charcuterie board, instead of meats and cheeses, Laurie’s boards feature bite-sized desserts, savory pastries, cookies, mini tarts, cupcakes, petit fours, and other sweets. She offers a breakfast grazing board with pastries, tarts, and muffins perfect for brunches and early morning gatherings. Her lunch boxes are also popular with retail clients.

That Borrowed Kitchen

Laurie says when she first got started in the baking business in Cherokee County, she had trouble finding space to rent. She and John looked for a shared kitchen, but there were none to be found in close proximity. That knowledge led her to open That Borrowed Kitchen so she could help other cooks in similar situations. “We had people coming to our shop in Canton who wanted to rent our kitchen, but it was small, and we were busy. We knew we wanted a bigger space. When we bought our new facility, we decided to open it to others, because there are a lot of home businesses out there. Basically it is a production kitchen.”

Shared kitchens provide a sense of community. Users benefit from the advice and experience of fellow operators. Renting kitchen space makes the most sense when a small business doesn’t have the room or the right equipment to cater an event. The advantage of a shared kitchen is that renters use and pay for it when they need it, so they don’t have the expensive overhead of maintaining the space and equipment full-time.

Laurie says those who cook for farmers markets, fairs, and festivals, as well as caterers and small batch bakers are perfect customers for That Borrowed Kitchen. “We rent out space and time for a full day.”

Bananas + Beehives also continues to be available for a variety of fun-filled events, including birthday parties and showers. The couple also plans to offer classes, baking events, and team-building events.

If interested in retail products, catering, or events, visit BananasAndBeehives.com. If interested in shared kitchen space, visit ThatBorrowedKitchen.com for more information.

 

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