CANONSBURG – Selling cookies, coffee and biscotti at Pittsburgh farmers markets for four years wasn’t enough for Liza Betsch, so the Moon Township native opened a bakery right across from First Street Elementary School. The grand opening Saturday was the first time Betsch and her batches of giant cookies, cakes and assorted sweet treats were available outside of Allegheny County.
“It was all part of the plan: being here, being close to the store. I came here, loved the area, loved the people,” she said, “but the whole plan was to bring downtown to hometown, and to make that happen you need to be right here (in Canonsburg) so people don’t go to Pittsburgh,” said Betsch, who moved to Canonsburg a year ago.
The flavors of the store’s namesake giant cookies run the gamut from red velvet to caramel apple, but Betsch said two are standouts among customers.
“The Midnight Express is a popular one. It’s a double chocolate with espresso and dark chocolate chunks. And we’re well-known for our lemon cookies. They’re tart and sweet,” she said.
Not betraying the bakery’s name, everything is made on-site with the help of two full-time employees and a handful of part-time seasonal bakers. For Melissa Siders, who moved from Peters Township to Canonsburg three years ago, she doesn’t consider her job work.
“How often do you get to come in and enjoy every aspect of work? And to give happiness to customers – there’s nothing like it,” Siders said, “and with Liza, I’ve never had a boss who’s more appreciative of you and is right there working with you in the trenches.”
In the tale of the tape, the old-fashioned nut rolls weigh in the heaviest – and very popular Saturday as at least five customers walked out with one – and are a testament to Betsch’s perfectionism.
“We started those in the fall at farmers’ markets and they’ve just gone gangbusters. It took me a while to get my grandmother’s recipe just right, but that’s what she said: have to practice with these,” Betsch said.
Lining the cramped sweet aisles are staples for a nutritious meal: homemade pastas, olive oils and vinegars, pickled beets and jellies and dry soup mixes.
“It’s all here. We make the most of the space. And I’m still looking for a local, fair trade coffee vendor,” Betsch said, “otherwise, I have a lot of other products that are locally made and sourced; a lot right here in Canonsburg, like Overhill Lane’s soaps and candles. They have cupcake-styled soaps for a bubble bath that are lovely.”