The warmth of the sun’s rays kissing my cheek, the smell of homemade goodness embracing me as I push open the entryway, and the friendly smile of the woman behind the counter all contribute to my gentle coaxing into this cozy shop in the middle of Oakwood. This woman, Theresa as I will come to know her, is the owner of Ashley’s Pastry Shop, and located all around her is heaven on earth—homemade pastries.
Now, I’ve always been blessed with a very intense sweet tooth (…or is it a curse?), so as you can imagine I was more than overjoyed to have the chance to “do my homework”, as we shall say, in order to write this article. But it wasn’t only the sweet treats that will bring me back to this bakery in the future; it’s also the people. The friendly environment and observable relationship between their customers and workers contribute to the little shop’s homey character. I felt like I wasn’t just another dime in the bucket, but an actual person whom they were excited to treat with the most satisfying treat possible. Once I arrived, Theresa very kindly offered me her most recommended pastry—a cheese Danish—which I can honestly say is the best I have ever tasted. It didn’t have that pre-packaged quality we have all experienced when biting into a mass-produced name-brand goodie. This Danish was the real deal. And shortly after I found out exactly what the secret is to the decadent sweets made exclusively in house at Ashley’s Pastry Shop.
The owners, Greg and Theresa Hammons opened this shop twenty-nine years ago and named the bakery after their first daughter. Greg’s family had owned bakeries throughout his life and when the opportunity arose for the Hammons to open their own in Oakwood on Park Avenue, they jumped at the chance. “It has allowed us to bake, be creative, and show our passion for the love of baking, while being part of the community,” explained Theresa. And over the years, this cute little shop has definitely become sewn into the fabric of the community. Ashley’s Pastry Shop now supplies many surrounding restaurants with pastries, such as the delicious bread at The Pine Club and Old Hickory Bar-B-Que. Ashley’s also gives all of their unsold bakery items to Catholic Social Services daily. This bakery may be little, but it has the biggest heart. When I spoke to Theresa, she emphasized how she believed we all have an obligation to give back to the community: “it is much better for a lot of people to do little things, because when it comes down to it, we may not have the means, time, or talent to do one big thing if we wait.” And let me tell you, these gifts that Ashley’s is giving to deserving charities and non-profit clubs are no little thing—a lot of time and effort goes into each pastry made in their kitchen.
Ashley’s Pastry Shop is very fortunate to have a great group of employees, most of them considered family now after being together over twenty-five years. A crew comes in at 11 o’clock each night and begins to bake for the next day. There are no cake mixes or prepackaged crescents behind those kitchen doors. Every item in their display cases and every wedding cake that appears on that couple’s special day are baked from scratch on site. Now that’s an amazing, and delicious, feat. Ashley’s is one of the few remaining bakeries that offer such a large homemade selection, ranging from Danishes to cookies to wedding cakes to donuts—anything catered to the customer’s desire. That’s another wonderful thing about this quaint, cozy shop; they are more than willing to work with the customer to fill any need, just itching for the opportunity to put their creativity to use. They are truly at your service, and trust me, you really can’t go wrong with any pastry you choose.
So next time you have a special occasion, or maybe you need something sweet to brighten your day, or hey, maybe it’s just a Tuesday, I highly recommend meandering over to Ashley’s Pastry Shop. You could have the pleasure of sinking your teeth into a sand-tart cookie—a classic favorite that was actually shipped to three different coasts just last Friday! Or you could start your morning off right with a breakfast treat, like their cheese pocket (I know…I’m getting hungry, too). With the season being fall, Ashley’s is also featuring a lot of homemade pumpkin pastries. I assure you whichever you end up choosing will be pristine and truly a treat. Really, your taste buds might not be able to take the deprivation much longer, which is truly what it is considered if you haven’t yet savored a pastry from Ashley’s. It’s homemade goodness away from home, baked with love and care, and probably even a hug if that’s what the customer needs.
Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Tuesday-Friday 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM