When Diana and Ryan Schuler opened Spoon Baking Company on December 22, they weren't sure what to expect, but knew they were ready. The bakery had been on their minds for 10 years and counting, and it finally came to fruition with the Alton, Illinois, opening.

The Schulers have been cooking and baking commercially since the days of The Hearty Basket, an old catering and lunch company they ran out of their home. Though they converted their home kitchen into an industrial one, they still felt limited and knew they needed a separate space to really keep up with their vision.

Since the Schulers first envisioned Spoon Baking Company all those years ago, they've been preparing for opening day. Trips across the country have inspired many aspects of the bakery. In addition, the Schulers purchased a farm in Alton (they also live in town) and planted orchard trees of every variety. Due for harvest this year, the fruit will be included in every aspect of the Spoon menu.

The space itself is small but mighty — at only 350 square feet, the bakery is deemed the smallest commercial space in Alton, the quaintness "drawing people in," according to the Schulers. But what Spoon lacks in space, the owners make up for with a full-on sensory experience. The Schulers are generous and encourage all patrons to try anything new and exciting — this week is Callebaut Belgium drinking chocolate, which provides a velvety, rich cup of chocolate. Next week might be their homemade marshmallows or red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. 

"We only serve a few things that we really love," says Diana Schuler. "And as any bakery, our goal is to run out at the end of the day."

One thing they always have samples of is their flagship cookie, the Spoon Cookie. A recipe created by Ryan Schuler, the cookie is a sweet-and-hearty mix of oatmeal, coconut and walnut that symbolizes the bakery perfectly.

Though the Schulers are taking things one day at a time, they already have their sights set on the future. The bakery will begin offering quiche with a side salad for lunch after Valentine's Day, and continue creating new drinks using Door County Coffee, discovered on one of their trips around the country.

For the long term, the couple hopes to expand, opening more locations in both the Metro East and St. Louis, as well as creating a "chocolate lounge," where patrons can immerse themselves in chocolate in every way.

"Life's short," says Diana Schuler. "Might as well go for your dreams."

Spoon Baking Company is open Monday to Friday, 6:30am to 3:30pm, and Saturday from 7am to noon.

Spoon Baking Company, 4 E. Broadway, Alton, Illinois, facebook.com/spoonbakingcompany, 618.374.6098


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