Pastry chef expands business goals in partnership with Presque Isle restaurant

3 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — People who visit Mainely Mexican in Presque Isle now have sweet treats to try thanks to a new mini dessert shop located inside the restaurant.

On April 1, Florence Joseph welcomed community members to A Pastry Harvest. The dessert counter can be found in Mainely Mexican’s dining area and features homemade cheesecakes, cannolis, danishes, cream horns, whoopie pies, cookies, sweet rolls and scones, as well as various recipes of flatbread.

Joseph has been working in kitchen and bakery-related jobs throughout her adult life and most recently worked at Cafe Demoiselle until the business closed last year. A Pastry Harvest began as a small-scale custom cake business based in Joseph’s home, and she plans to continue offering custom cakes at her new location.  

After Joseph found herself laid off during the pandemic, she applied for a cook position at Mainely Mexican. She suggested to the restaurant’s owner, Jay Edgecomb, that she help him expand the dessert menu. That conversation resulted in a partnership that has allowed Joseph’s bakery to come to fruition.

“Jay has believed in my vision from Day One,” Joseph said. “He has provided the equipment, space and support to help get this started.”

Edgecomb said he hopes A Pastry Harvest will attract new customers to Mainely Mexican for both the main menu and dessert options.

“[I’m looking forward to] seeing Florence be successful. She has put a lot of work into this and she has a passion for baking that I appreciate,” Edgecomb said.

Joseph said that her new venture has gained much support from the local business community. Judy Boudman, former owner of Cafe Demoiselle and Cafe Sorpreso, donated Cafe Demoiselle’s dessert display case. The Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting on April 1 that included a welcome song from Clarissa Sabattis, chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseets, of which Joseph is a member.

Whoopie pies, cream horns and cupcakes are some of the many pastries that Florence Joseph bakes for A Pastry Harvest, a new pastry shop inside Mainely Mexican. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

Flatbread and pastries are some of the treats offered at A Pastry Harvest, a new shop inside Mainely Mexican. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

At the ribbon cutting, Sabattis noted how excited she was to see Joseph’s hard work become reality.

“Florence is dedicated and her love for what she is doing really comes through,” Sabattis said.

Joseph currently has two employees at A Pastry Harvest and hopes to hire more people as the business grows. Currently the dessert shop is open during the same hours as Mainely Mexican, but Joseph said there is potential for expanded hours if she sees a demand from customers.

“It would be great to use the [restaurant’s] space for people to stop in and grab coffee and dessert,” Joseph said. “People could maybe use the space for a morning meeting or to access WiFi.”

Though A Pastry Harvest has always gotten support from close friends and others in the community, Joseph looks forward to expanding the business’ customer base.

“I’m happy to bring my pastries to a more open market,” Joseph said. “It’s been exciting to get orders from people I’ve never met and expand what we could do.”

A Pastry Harvest owner Florence Joseph (middle) poses with her employees Jacob Vess (left) and Kylee Pelletier. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

A Pastry Harvest owner Florence Joseph (middle) poses with her employees Jacob Vess (left) and Kylee Pelletier. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)