Martha’s Pastries — family-owned and operated for 28 years — has long offered a special space to bring people together. “A number of customers have been with us the whole time,” says Martha Merz, whose quiet warmth and inviting manner make Martha’s Pastries, located in Sharon Heights Shopping Center, feel like a home away from home.
“I’ve gotten notes from customers that I’ve had to stop reading halfway through and come back to later,” admits Martha, extremely touched by the heartfelt responses she’s received to news of her retirement. “There was one customer who told me I was her first friend when she moved in across the street years ago and would stop by in the mornings.”
There will a celebration in honor of Martha, sponsored by Shady Lane, on Saturday, Oct. 1, from noon to 3:00 pm. “We’re asking people to bring photos and share memories in Martha’s Bakery retirement book,” says organizer and Shady Lane owner Alice Deutscher. [Note: There will be a concurrent event at Shady Lane with everything offered in the store 10-40% off “in celebration our wonderful customers’ loyalty and our amazing artisans,” according to Alice.]
Martha, who comes from a family of bakers — her father’s brothers were bakers and her great-grandfather on her father’s side was a baker in Germany— started crafting her own creations around the time she was nine. “I could do whatever I wanted in the kitchen,” recalls Martha, “as long as I cleaned up.” Martha was soon baking for school events and church functions.
After beginning her baking career at Woodside Bakery under original owner Doug Basegio in 1982, Martha started thinking of creating her own space to share her baking with others. Martha’s husband, who worked at United, had likewise always wanted to run a business of his own.
“Martha’s Pastries became our compromise,” says Martha. It mixed her love of baking with his entrepreneurial spirit. Martha’s Pastries first opened its doors in October 1988.
In time, Martha’s Pastries also became a place where her own five children worked on and off over the years. “Instead of my kids just having summer jobs somewhere else, we really got to spend time together as a family,” says Martha, and it is this sense of close connection along with Martha’s delicious creations that have kept customers coming back over the years.
Shoppers used to buying baked goods at Martha’s will be able to continue. The space is being taken over by the brother and sister team of Mark and Jan Sweyer, who owned the Woodside Bakery and Cafe.
Photo by Scott R. Kline (2013)