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The Eat Shop bakery in Solon brings old family recipes back to the public
The Eat Shop continues a legacy started by former Cedar Rapids restaurant owner Mary Ann Drahos
SOLON — Seventy-one years after her great-aunt Mary Ann Drahos closed The Eat Shop in Cedar Rapids, Cheryl Maloney has brought her recipes back to the public with a bakery by the same name in Solon.
Along the way, some of the time-tested recipes that Drahos’ restaurant billed as “Just Good Food,” became carb-loaded confections Maloney says are “Worth Every Bite.”
With a business that started in her home last fall and immediately “caught on like wildfire,” the owner said the slogan proved itself on many local taste buds even before the storefront opened Aug. 7 on Main Street.
If you go:
Where: 120 W. Main St. Unit 1, Solon.
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; 7 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday; closed Wednesday
Phone: (319) 624-2014
Details: Online ordering to be launched by the end of October. Call ahead for large batch or custom orders.
In a world of increasing health consciousness and complex diets, Maloney wants your cheat day to be not just worth the calories or worth the sugar — she wants it to be something you won’t be disappointed in.
“If you splurge, I want it to be the best you've ever had,” she said.
With wildly popular cinnamon rolls in addition to pecan rolls, kolaches, cookies, pies and bagels, Maloney has added her own personal tweaks and signatures to the recipes passed down from her great-aunt through her mother. The baking tradition was so prevalent in their family that she didn’t realize it wasn’t normal for most families until she was an adult.
“Baking has always been part of what my family does,” she said. “I just thought that’s how everyone’s family was. I didn’t think there was anything special about it.”
Using 300 pounds of flour and 90 pounds of Kerrygold Irish butter every week, she’s taken the tradition to a whole new level — a dream her mother lives vicariously through after years of aspiring to open her own bakery.
With a proprietary secret common to all her rolls and kolaches, Maloney commits to full-fat recipes, using butter instead of the lard they originally called for, that promise to bring an unparalleled experience to common bakery items. Unlike some bakeries, their kolaches have fresh fruit, not canned filling.
In addition to signature cookies and pies, which helped build her business while it was still run out of her home, The Eat Shop offers bagels and bagel bombs. Bagel bombs, a smaller form, are seasoned balls of dough with cream cheese inside.
How it started
Maloney, a native of Chicago, never imagined herself moving to small-town Iowa. When her father was diagnosed with cancer, she dove head first into her stand mixer.
“I kicked it into high gear, it was therapeutic for me,” she said. “It made me feel like I had a purpose — a beginning and an end.“
After leaving the corporate world to raise her son, experiencing the loss of her father in March 2020 and seeing diminished benefits to city living during the pandemic, she decided to give Iowa a try.
After her family moved to their dream home in Solon last October, she continued offering her baked goods to the public out of her home. Before long, she was baking so much for her new Iowa customers that she was forced to find a commercial kitchen or a store front bakery.
“By Easter, I was doing 32 pies out of the house in 24 hours. That was on top of cookies, cinnamon rolls and everything else,” she said.
Orders from Mercy Iowa City also helped the business grow to a level that Maloney expected to take at least five years — growth thanks mostly to word-of-mouth.
While she had always thought about opening a bakery, she knew doing so would be next to impossible with the regulations in Chicago. From learning how to properly scoop and measure flour as a child, to her drive as an adult to brand the baked goods even before they had a brand name, the work she had been preparing for all her life finally came to fruition.
“My husband always laughed at me. In Chicago, I knew opening a bakery was impossible because the barriers to entry were so high, but I would still always buy 30 percent off stickers, or print stickers to make my packaging look more professional,” she said. “I was always working toward a brand and a tagline. What was my brand going to stand for?”
When her no-carbs neighbor had an unexpected reaction to the baked goods, she found the seed that eventually blossomed into her current tagline.
The Eat Shop was originally a restaurant started and run by Cheryl Maloney’s great-aunt, Mary Ann Drahos, and her six sisters: Jennie, Florence, Lillian, Helen and Anne.
The restaurant, which didn’t focus on most of the family recipes that Maloney presents today, was open from 1935 to 1950 at 1529 First Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.
But like the restaurant 71 years ago, the Solon bakery today keeps one thing in mind: the pure goodness of simple foods that are done well.
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