Walk into Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread in Smithfield and you’ll notice free samples all over the store.
That’s because it’s impossible to put her baked goods into words, owner Anna Marie Wade says. You’ve just got to try them for yourself.
“It’s amazing how, when people taste our breads, they tell us that there is a comfort about it that they just don’t understand,” she said, “along with the amazing taste and flavor and moisture.”
And the shop has a lot more on the menu than its name suggests.
The bakery boasts more than 25 flavors of sweet bread, including peanut butter and jelly, peach cobbler, hazelnut, pistachio, very berry, chocolate mint and, of course, banana nut. To compliment the sugary treats, the shop has a coffee station where patrons can customize their brews with cream, sugar and more than a dozen flavored syrups.
The original bread recipes came from Wade’s mother, she said, and she has since added a lot to the recipe book.
Wade has a resolute dedication to quality, which means she only uses fresh ingredients with few preservatives. Wade acknowledges that comes at a price, but it is important to her to sell the same breads she would feed her husband and five children.
“We take pride in the fact that were not putting out just any old thing just to make a dollar,” she said. “As my mother and my grandmother would say, ‘Child, you get what you pay for.’”
The breads range from $8.25 to $10.25 for a loaf and from $5.25 to $6.25 for packs of three slices.
Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread opened April 29 on North Bright Leaf Boulevard, and it will host a ribbon cutting from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday. For the celebration, Wade plans to prepare a light luncheon of Waldorf chicken salad, pasta, pineapple-honey-glazed grilled shrimp and mandarin orange spiced iced tea.
Wade, who launched her business in 2011, said her wholesale operation makes up most of her revenue. Southern Season in Chapel Hill stocks Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread, as do Harris Teeter stores in Charlotte and Wilmington. Harris Teeter has agreed to put Wade’s breads in more stores as she increases production, she said.
Wade is proud to offer the same quality sweet breads in Smithfield so that people don’t have to drive out of town for her products. Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread previously opened a store near the interchange of Interstate 40 and N.C. 42 in the Cleveland community, but it closed in 2013.
Wade is getting some help tending the shop this summer from Victoria Hudson, who volunteered to work in the bakery during her summer break. A rising sophomore at East Carolina University, Hudson used to frequent Wade’s bakery in Cleveland. When Hudson came home for the summer and learned of the new store, she contacted Hudson and offered to help out.
“There’s no one I’d rather work for than Ms. Anna,” Hudson said. “She’s the best boss I’ve ever had.”
Christianity is an important part of Wade’s life. While she does not beat her customers over the head with her faith, she said loving Jesus and caring about family make up the fiber of her operations.
When it comes to both her religion and her business, Wade has set her goals high.
“Our missions is to be able to serve God as a wonderful ministry by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through our bread and our customer service,” Wade said. “And in that, we have a mission to become the largest distributor of gourmet sweet breads in the United States.”
Anna’s Gourmet Banana Nut Bread
What: Bakery selling hot coffee and more than 25 flavors of sweet bread.
Where: 938 N. Bright Leaf Blvd., Smithfield.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Ribbon Cutting: 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Contact: AnnasGourmetBNB.com; 919-300-1223; Facebook.com/Bread4U.