In 1998, a young couple who had never set foot in the community bought a bakery in the heart of downtown Farmington.
Nearly 15 years later, Jeff Pavlik and Becky Burns have turned Farmington Bakery into Sunflour Bakehaus. Their art-filled Grand River store hums with activity during the day as customers old and new come in for cookies, pastries, cakes and their popular Old World bread.
Burns said the bakery's longevity and success can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is their loyal customers.
"This is a very well supported business by the community," she said. When the economy took a turn, the couple survived by tightening their belts. "We've done a lot more of the work ourselves," Burns added. "We just hunkered down. We still try to have the best quality product we can, but there are other things that we've cut back on."
Over the years, the Burns-Pavlik family has grown to include three children, Rosie, Hank and Zack. All three have been raised, in every sense of that word, in the bakery and in downtown Farmington. One of Burns' favorite stories happened when Rosie, now 11, was just a baby.
"My mother-in-law was in town for the week from St. Louis, and she was pushing Rosie in the stroller. Someone, we still don't know who it was, stopped her, looked at Rosie and said, 'I know that's Rosie, but who are you?'," Burns said. "That's what we love about raising our kids in this community. People look out for them."
While owning a business can be demanding, Pavlik said he and Burns have made a conscious decision to ensure they have time for family. The bakery is open Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It doesn't suit everyone, but it's our secret recipe to keep going," Pavlik said. "It's really easy, especially for bakers, to work themselves to death ... Part of the secret is that we do it our own way. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first, so you can keep doing it."
Pavlik said he is very clear about what he cannot do, and he does whatever he can to help his customers. On Tuesday, for instance, a woman came in at 6:30 a.m. looking for a cake to take to work.
"She walked away with a cake and got to the office by 7, she was thrilled," Pavlik said. "That, I could do. But if I can't do something, I'll tell you."
Sunflour Bakehaus is located at 33250 Grand River in Farmington. Learn more by visiting sunflourbakehaus.com or finding them on Facebook. You can also post a review of this business on their Patch directory listing.