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Bridgeport welcomes a new dessert bakery

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM The Fat Apple Owner Whitney Rhodes Stemkowski and her daughter, 3-year-old Della, stand in front of the bakery’s apple-making station on Thursday inside the store. The bakery specializes in caramel-covered apples, making over 50 varieties.

BRIDGEPORT — A dessert bakery has made Bridgeport its permanent residence to help locals sate their sweet tooth.

The Fat Apple opened its doors Oct. 13 and offers a vast variety of sweets and treats. The bakery has been in business for four years, however it was previously only opened around holidays. Owner Whitney Rhodes Stemkowski said the 7,500-square-foot bakery sells caramel covered apples, cakes, candy, chocolates, pies and more, all made by she and her parents, Don and Robyn Rhodes. The bakery also sells Walnut Creek Foods products.

“It’s been going great,” she said. “I think because we’ve got such unique stuff; we’ve got the Amish country, pies, breads, candies, chocolates, stuff for everybody. The atmosphere is fun here. The kids get excited just as much as the adults do.”

Stemkowski followed in the footsteps of her father, who has baked for more than 40 years. She said she has been baking since she was just 7-years-old, when she would enter into bakery contests at the Belmont County Fair. The store has been a “lifelong dream” of the entire family, Robyn Rhodes said.

“We started out, my dad’s always wanted to do pies and I love doing cakes and bake stuff and we started making chocolates; we kept adding every season we were open and then before you know it, we’re making every thing,” Stemkowski said.

Stemkowski said she decided to open the bakery in the village to benefit the community.

“I felt like it could really do good for Bridgeport; and I just love doing this. If I had to pick a job, this is what I’d want to do. I love baking, making candies and trying new things. I’m happy to come to work every day,” Stemkowski said.

Regular customers aided in Stemkowski’s decision to open up permanent residence in the village.

“They promised they would come often if we opened permanently, and they have. Our loyal customers have definitely kept us going,” she said.

The bakery also hosts fundraising events for local schools and organizations. On Saturdays, the shop demonstrates to customers how they make the more than 50 varieties of candy apples, the bakery’s specialty. The family purchases hundreds of fresh Amish country apples weekly. Not only does the bakery offer an array of flavors like apple pie and s’mores apples, but they also make character apples like the Grinch, Jack Skellington, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and princesses.

“When we have our fundraisers and we have 500 to 600 apples, they’ll all be made in front of everyone. So all the kids can come up to the window and see Micky Mouse being made. We want to do this so everyone can see how it’s made,” Stemkowski said. “Whatever the holiday is, we make at least five apples to go along with that holiday. We love making new apples; if people ask for certain apples, I love a challenge, and I’ll try my best to make it.”

The Rhodes family has many plans for the bakery, including a new edition and holiday special events. They hope to open a 50’s theme bistro, located inside of the bakery, by Christmas time. The bistro will offer soups, sandwiches, paninis, salads. Stemkowski said they also plan to have holiday events for Fall and Christmas.

The Fat Apple is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and is located next to the Skyliner at 225 Main Street in Bridgeport.

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