Aug. 13—NORWICH — Sweet Momma's bakery opened in December 2019, three months before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world and disrupted businesses of all sizes.
But a steady stream of loyal customers came through the doors of the family-owned shop in a tiny spot at the corner of Town and Elm streets at the Norwichtown Green. Sweet baked goods, from rich, decorated cakes to brownies, cookies, pastries and sweet rolls fill the front case and side display shelves.
On a recent visit, owner Jean Smith and several family members can be seen jockeying for a position behind the counter to wait on customers and add more fresh-baked items to the front case.
With a growing catering and lunch business for Sweet Momma's comfort food favorites ― barbecue chicken, meatloaf, chicken parmesan and quiche among the offerings ― Sweet Momma's needed a bigger shop.
At the end of August, the store will close for about 10 days as Smith and her family move from their current location at 87 Town St. to the vacant former Carvel's ice cream shop at 60 Town St. in the James Shopping Plaza.
"It gives us more space, more breathing room," Smith said. "And it will help our elderly customers, because there's parking. They want to pull in and park. And it's flat ground."
The new space also has a catering kitchen, allowing staff to cook on site for events, rather than bringing food to cook at the customer's location.
The bakery also will expand its hours. It's now open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The new shop will be open until 6 p.m. "to catch people coming home after work," Smith said.
Sweet Momma's still needs final permits from the city and Uncas Health District before moving, but a large "Coming Soon" sign with the store's logo fills the front window at the new site.
Smith's sister, Brenda Stone, of Griswold, who also works at the shop, invented a new slogan for the move: "We're looking for a smooth move, easy breezy, lemon squeezy," she said.
Sweet Momma's is a multi-generation family business, with Jean Smith as owner, daughter TeNasha Smith as manager and son Bobby Smith working the front counter. Granddaughter Naiya Stone-McClellan, 16, just started working there and another of Jean Smith's granddaughters, Keyanna Duval, 12, helps out.
Smith's sister, Judy Bell is the chief cookie baker at the shop, and their mother, Elizabeth Hall-Harley often is there, greeting customers and helping where needed.
"We're not getting rich, but we're doing OK and we're having fun," Jean Smith said.
During the recent visit, Bobby Smith's 11-month-old son, Asaiah Smith, entertained customers from his seat with a large yellow tray decorated with colorful mounted toys.
Customer Susan Seeman said she looks forward to her weekly visits to the shop.
"They have wonderful pastries, and they're wonderful people," Seeman said.