Mother Myrick's Serves Up Manchester's Sweetest Side
As originally featured on Manchestervermont.com .
Jacki Baker and Ron Mancini are the husband-wife duo behind Manchester's famous confectionery. When you ask them about their catalog, they'll tell you their true product is not a cake or a cookie but something much more spiritual.
After hearing the story, we buy it. The proof is in the LuLu anyway! A slice of their signature cake is like a slice of sunshine. It's light, bright, and sweet like summer and it disappears from the box as fast as the season goes. Plus, there's Ron's famous fudge sauce and melt-in-your-mouth buttercrunch. And chocolatey chocolate brownies, hand-dipped truffles, and the best gingersnaps on earth.
From humble beginnings.
"The foundation of Mother Myrick's is really a collection of lessons, techniques, and recipes passed from one candy maker to another. And each one of these things are transfers by hand. Not things you read about in books and do. In fact, everything in our business has really been the gift of others.
Grandmothers, and Good Food.
Speaking of gifts, Jacki is a "Baker" by birth. "My grandmother had a little restaurant. My mom worked there with her and my dad would help out on Sundays. She was open almost seven days a week, and her specialty was PIE. She was famous for them! I can remember her sitting in her living room for days before Thanksgiving, peeling apples. She'd make hundreds and hundreds of pies for people to come and pick up for their celebrations."
Ron had one of those Italian grandmas. You know just the type. "I grew up in Queens and my grandparents lived with us. My mom and my grandmother did all the cooking. As kids, we didn't realize we were enjoying gourmet recipes from my grandmother's heritage. We never went out to restaurants. My folks felt that you couldn't do better than being at home. And it turned out that they were right." We laughed. "And as important as the food itself was the role it played in all of our celebrations. Whether it was Sunday dinner or a major holiday, there were days of preparation and the desserts were a special part of it."
So these two, Ron and Jacki, share an appreciation for really good food. And also the bond food creates among (even) strangers and friends. ""
"Celebration and tradition go hand in hand. Because of the relationships we have with our customers, and because of their love of our products and service, we get to be a part of their traditions and celebrations. That's our big reward, our true product if you will."
But it's not just their cakes and cookies that endear Ron and Jacki to their customers. Service is also key. Ron tells us that he would often accompany his father to work on Saturdays. "My dad was one of the top salesmen at Brooks Brothers, in their flagship store on Madison Avenue. I was a stock boy on his sales floor and he was a star." Judges, dignitaries, actors...you name it. They only wanted to work with Mr. Mancini. "The big takeaway for me was that quality and customer service were the essential components to success. My dad was a fierce defender of Brooks Brothers quality, and he was also the type of person the customers loved because he loved them. And that's something that's really stuck with me."
What's in a name?
The company started in 1977 as a simple pop-up fudge stand in the window of a local store. Then, in '78, with encouragement from Ithaca's Purity Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor was born. It was gorgeous. Imagine a vintage marble-topped soda fountain, cafe tables inside and out, and a candy shop straight out of Willy Wonka. "But we needed a new name," Jacki laughed. "A friend told us about a new ice cream shop on Martha's Vineyard, called Mad Martha's. And Mother Myrick's popped into our heads. It was perfect! It had local significance and great alliteration." And so Mother Myrick's was born.
Invested in Community.
"Over the years as we've had to re-invent ourselves, it's given us an opportunity to look at the things we've created that are beyond us, too. Did you know that there are no less than five individuals who had their very first job with us who now own their own businesses in Manchester? "They are restauranteurs, merchants, contractors and medical professionals." Ron and Jacki are committed to encouraging Manchester's next generation of small business owners to go out and do it, to take the chance. From the sounds of it, they've been building entrepreneurs one scoop, or slice, at a time.
A favorite MVT experience.
"When we have friends come for the first time, we always take them to Hildene." Jacki pulled out a photo album. "We were married there in 1980 when the public aspect of the historic site was still in its infancy. We take our friends to visit our wedding site, show them where the band played.
"When we got married," Ron explained "Mother Myrick's was still brand new, and the business community gave us gifts in kind for our wedding. Clint and Jean from The Jelly Mill gave us pates and cheeses. Charlie, the chef from the old Grabbers restaurant coordinated everything. Another small business colleague handled the glasses and champagne. And Oscar Johnson, a founding member and driving force behind of Friends of Hildene, sweetheart that he was, restored a carriage, dressed up in his grandfather's beaver hat and morning coat, and drove us the entire way up the Hildene Drive. On the ride, he shared with us that the horse was thirty years old, and his name was (if you can believe it!) Chocolate."