Cothran’s Bakery to mark 50th anniversary

September 7, 2012 chris
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 By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Usually, the one celebrating the anniversary gets the gifts, but when Cothran’s Bakery marks its 50th Sept. 15, the bakery staff will treat everyone else to special prices on sweet treats.

Owner Chris Cothran said all donuts will be 50 cents, regardless of the kind, and there will be other unadvertised specials. That way, Cothran said, the bakery can offer something like banana bread at a special price until it sells out, then offer another item on special.

“We’ll continue to cook more donuts as needed,” Cothran said, on celebration day. When the bakery marked its 40th anniversary the bakery sold “just shy” of 40,000 donuts.

The staff will spend this anniversary party working hard, but it  had a good chance to celebrate earlier this summer – when Cothran took them on a six-day Caribbean cruise.

“It was my wife Michelle’s idea,” Cothran said. “We had a ball.”

Only two employees were unable to go because of scheduling conflicts. Cothran said everyone on record working at the bakery as of November 2011 was included on the cruise, but he didn’t tell them until February of this year.

“There were 27 of us,” Cothran said. He said the cruise could be considered expensive (“and it was,” he said.) but in every port they went to, members of the staff would scout out local bakeries and come back with ideas to bring home to the business.

“In some ports the bakeries were limited, but it was amazing. Three or four people would visit a bakery and everyone would notice something different,” he said.

Cothran’s Bakery got its start in 1962, when Chris Cothran’s grandparents operated it as a Shipley’s Donut franchise.

It continued under the Shipley’s brand name until 1994 as a donut shop that offered some other baked goods.

Cothran began working at his grandparents bakery almost 30 years ago. He and Michelle bought the bakery in 1994

“We came out of the chain in 1994 and put the family name on the bakery. We became a full-line bakery and we’ve never looked back,” Cothran said. “It’s grown and grown.”

Cothran’s does catering, but often has to turn down catering jobs. “A lot of what we do is re-bookings – people who call us for the same event every year,” Cothran said.

“We really concentrate on being a bakery,” Cothran explained. “We offer 100 different products, and 65 of them will be available on a given day.

“Some are seasonal and some are things we’re trying out,” he said.

A great deal of attention has been given to bakeries lately, with several shows centered around bakeries, cake decorating or cupcake making on television.

“Shows like ‘Cake Boss’ or ‘Cupcake Wars’ can be a Godsend, or they can be the death of a bakery,” Cothran said. The shows demonstrate what bakeries can do, but they show it being done in 30 minutes, Cothran said, when the cakes being produced may have taken days to produce.

Sometimes customers will come in on Friday and want an elaborate cake ready on Saturday, Cothran said.

“It would help if (the shows) would tell more about the labor involved,”