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For Becky Turner owning your own business was something always in the back of her mind. She is now the new owner of The Duchess of Bedford, the town's popular bakery and breakfast and luncheon stop.
As a child she never cooked. "Mama would never let us in the kitchen. We made such a mess," she explained. "I did Pampered Chef to stock my kitchen because I did enjoy cooking and it is much more enjoyable with the right tools."
Becky Turner grew up in Amherst and went to high school there. Turner attended Southern Seminary in Buena Vista and finished her bachelor's at Averett College. After marrying Kevin Turner the couple moved to Bedford where Kevin owns the Century 21 office.
Becky heard about the bakery and its reputation for delicious baked goods. When the Turners discovered that the owners, Kelly and Douglas Morales, were considering selling the business, the couple started to consider purchasing the bakery. But they just weren't ready to take the plunge. They started to look at the business a bit closer and decided to buy it. On Sept. 1 of this year, The Duchess of Bedford was finally theirs.
"I had always wanted a business of my own and really wanted a bakery," said Becky Turner. "The hours are horrible but it is fun. There is always something different, and I can go out and talk to the people."
Turner's enthusiasm for her work and her past experience make her well prepared for life as a bakery owner. As with most small businesses, owners must be prepared to wear many different hats from that as a baker to one having a lot of business sense. Becky Turner has decorated cakes since 1992.
"I took a class at Michael's and started making birthday cakes."
Turner has also made a name for herself with her pound cakes. She has been making these cakes and shipping them to a store in Ohio for some time. In addition to her experience in the kitchen, Turner has business experience. She has helped her husband and her father with their businesses and does all of their bookkeeping. "My background is in accounting so I come well prepared to run a business," she explained.
At the shop, Turner leaves no doubt that she is a hands on employer.
"I am one of the bakers," she explained. "I get to the store by 4 o'clock in the morning to bake."
As if the running of a bakery is not enough to do, Becky Turner is a new mother. Her young daughter, Amanda, spends most days with her mom at the bakery. No, her daughter is not there in the pre-dawn hours. Kevin, Becky's husband, gets the baby up and delivers her to the shop on his way to the office.
The Turners recognized how successful the bakery was with the prior owners and plan to continue with most of the same products.
"What we serve now will stay. We may add a few more things," said Turner. "I want to start doing decorated cakes including wedding cakes."
She explained: "They are all special orders. We will not make cakes ahead of time and freeze them. So we need at least 24 hours notice to do a cake." Becky Turner's specialty is a pound cake and she is incorporating this recipe into the menu.
Since they purchased the business, the Turners have been very busy. Their location, not far from the D-Day Memorial, has brought in many visitors. According to the owners there has been a constant flow in both the bakery and the walk-in traffic for breakfast and lunch. "We do a lot of lunches to go," said Turner.
Box lunches are $8.95 and include a sandwich, a side and a dessert. For those who cannot pick them up, they will deliver.
Popular breakfast selections are croissants, quiche, and strata. Luncheon offerings include sandwiches of every kind.
The Duchess of Bedford features Boars Head meats. Chicken salad, a variety of side salads, and homemade chicken noodle soup are among the selections. The chicken salad is so popular that people buy it by the pound.
As the weather gets cooler, more soup selections will be added. The staff plans to include a BLT, using Boars Head bacon, on the luncheon menu in the near future. By next year the owners hope to revise the menu and add more items.
As an added bonus The Duchess of Bedford can accommodate groups. There is an upstairs room, complete with restroom facilities, available for parties. The room offers a private place to meet and enjoy a pleasant meal.
Of course, with the holidays coming, The Duchess of Bedford is the source for many holiday goodies. Offerings include a variety of traditional pies, rolls, and sweet potato ham biscuits. Christmas cookies and other baked goods will be available throughout the holiday season.
Future plans include adding more retail items including holiday gifts and seasonal selections. The Duchess of Bedford will continue to carry a large variety of herbs and spices.
The Duchess of Bedford is located at 405 Crenshaw Street in Bedford. Call 540-587-8777 for more information. Operating hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.