But you only have a few hours on Saturdays to visit Bright Side Sweets in Victor
VICTOR — Time it just right, and you might catch Jen Check and Christine Bernhardt singing along to the show tunes they enjoy playing.
And if you’re a kid, you might like having a seat and reading the selections in the Little Lending Library while mom and dad pay for treats.
And if you’re a gluten-free eater with a sweet tooth, you might like everything else about their Bright Side Sweets in the village of Victor. For nearly three years, they’ve run the dedicated gluten-free bakery, which is only open for five hours on Saturdays.
Both are educators; Check in Victor and Bernhardt in Bloomfield. The longtime friends — since their grad school years, although Check said they knew of each other in high school — have been scrapbooking and paper crafting together for years.
And, of course, baking, which because of their schedules they do on Friday nights, getting ready for Saturdays.
“We like that it’s small,” Bernhardt said. “We do have jobs that we enjoy and families that we love, so right now, this works for us.”
And if you haven’t guessed, they enjoy having fun while they work.
“We knew we could do this together and it would be fun and help people at the same time,” Check said.
They purchased the bakery business from Mike and Amy Griffin, who before moving out of the area had switched their bakery to a gluten-free operation. They had heard there was interest from buyers in acquiring the equipment and business itself.
So in 2017 they stepped in.
“We wanted to keep it the way it was,” Check said.
People who have the genetic celiac disease, affecting about 1 in 100 people worldwide, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, are among those on gluten-free diets. The ingestion of gluten — which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — leads to damage of the small intestine and disrupts the absorption of nutrients into the body, according to the foundation.
So that means avoiding foods with wheat, rye and barley.
Check, whose husband and daughter have celiac disease, and Bernhardt wanted to continue what worked for customers at the bakery and keep some of the previous recipes while adding their own.
Many come for their old standbys, the coffee cake, apple cider doughnuts, cookies — in particular, the white chocolate potato chip cookies — and some flavor of scone.
They post a menu on Facebook of what they’ll have to offer early Saturday mornings. Sometimes, the line will be out the door. Once, they sold out by 10 that morning.
“Our customers are amazing,” Check said.
John Strachan, of Canandaigua, said that supermarkets are carrying more and more gluten-free foods, but so much of it — especially baked goods — is just not great.
“Bright Side and other locally owned businesses like it are treasures that celiac sufferers are always looking for and can’t find enough of,” Strachan said. “Everything they offer here is as good as — or better than — what you could find at a traditional bakery. I only wish they could be open more than one day a week.”
Brian Imrich and his wife and kids come by at least every other Saturday. As Victor residents, part of it is to support local businesses and part of it is the friendliness of the owners. And part of it is, well — it’s a bakery, of course they’re coming back!
“We have our favorites, which are chocolate chip cookies, the apple cinnamon doughnuts and I like the cupcakes,” he said.
Bright Side does special orders for special events and parties. And by special, we mean special.
For Mother’s Day, they made up some cupcakes to look like flowers and put them in terra cotta flower pots. They did themed cookies for the royal wedding.
And for April Fool’s Day last year, they made cake pots that were actually Brussel’s sprouts. Fooled you!
“That was pretty fun,” Check said. “We just like to experiment and have fun and make what people want.”
Not all of the customers have celiac disease. Some are gluten sensitive and some have visitors coming in from out of town who have special dietary needs. Some, like Check and Berhardt, over time have just gone the gluten-free route naturally.
Some just enjoy what they have.
Gluten-free items are available at other locations in the area, but many customers require no cross contamination in their baked goods. So for some, that means they go without.
No one goes without here.
“When kids come in and they say, ‘You mean I can have anything here?’” Bernhardt said. “That’s fun.”