A bakery where everyone is welcome.
This is a story about a dream. A dream of a place where families gather. A dream of a third child. A dream of a place where the knowledge that has been forgotten can be gained again. It’s also a story about a bakery. But I digress.
Alicia Hammon occasionally tears up when she tells her story. We are meeting to discuss her new bakery, The Laughing Place Bakery, close to Linden Square in Gladstone. But the story she tells me is much more than just about flour, water, yeast and salt. It’s about health, listening to God’s calling and trusting Him.
The Laughing Place Bakery opened in November. The small space is developing slowly, with a small menu of favorite items. Hammon spent much of her adolescence in upstate New York, so the baked goods she makes reflect a childhood of watching her Grandfather turn out 20 loaves of bread every Saturday or watching one of her grandmothers work on their famous pumpkin or lemon meringue pies.
“We are so busy rushing from one thing to the next that I think a lot of the ‘home-arts’ have really been lost. I learned to bake at my Grandfather or my aunt’s knees. Those are the things that make a home a home. We live in an economy where both mom and dad have to work, and sometimes that’s what the mom is called to do anyway. But what gets lost in that is learning how to make a pie and learning how to make bread,” says Hammon.
Hammon says that the best piece of business advice she has received is informing her slow but steady growth.
“I received a lot of good business advice but the best was this, ‘Do one thing and do it better than anyone else. Don’t spread yourself too thin.’ And I don’t know that I’m doing anything better than anyone else yet, but I’m trying and learning so that I can have the best in the area. That’s why I’m keeping the menu small and only including things that I really love,” she says.
So far, that includes a rotating list of savories and sweets. Saturdays feature bread, just like Grandpa used to make. Mondays and Thursdays feature Shepherd’s Pie, Tuesdays and Fridays feature beirocks and Jamaicans. Wednesdays and Saturdays also feature quiche. Hammon says her cinnamon rolls, which take at least two days of prep time, are some of her best sellers. Once they are gone, they are gone.
Another addition to the menu that you won’t find at many bakeries is the inclusion of paleo and gluten-free items. Hammon herself lives a ’98 percent paleo lifestyle’. She tries to make sure that people living with allergies or by dietary restrictions can still have a treat that doesn’t break the bank.
The move to a paleo lifestyle happened after a long struggle with infertility. Hammon and her husband had two children but felt that their family wasn’t finished. They began fertility treatments which included some fairly invasive drug therapies. After a medical complication almost resulted in a blood transfusion, Hammon’s mother suggested that she try to paleo diet.
“It was really a ‘I’ll try anything’ kind of thing. And I’ll be really honest with you, that first week was really hard. I had a solid week of migraines from the sugar withdrawals. I’m a comfort eater and it was so hard knowing that I can have that cookie and feel better but then I’ll have to go through the detox again,” Hammon says. She stuck with it.
After a few weeks, she began to feel better.
“I began to think more clearly. You don’t realize that you can’t think clearly until you can think clearly. I stopped being depressed. I didn’t know I was depressed until I wasn’t anymore. For the first time in years, I could eat a meal without feeling nauseous. It was an amazing difference,” says Hammon.
As she went on, her energy level increased and she started running. She set a goal to run a 5k every month for a year. She dropped weight. But after a visit back home to see family, her fatigue returned. She still ran a 5k in Buffalo, New York. Upon returning home, she had a suspicion that she knew why she was tired. After quitting the extensive fertility treatments and clearing her body of toxins, she was pregnant.
Hammon says that changing her diet was such an immediate change that it was shocking. For her, sugar was the culprit. While Hammon and her family try to eat organic whenever possible, she says that sometimes it is cost prohibitive.
“I think the key is to do what you can and don’t beat yourself up about it when it’s out of reach. I’ll be honest, we ate a lot of carrots and celery there for a while, because that’s what we could afford. It was worth it,” she says.
So how does a paleo baker exist? Hammon says while she bakes conventional items most of the time, and that the Laughing Place Bakery could not be considered a true gluten-free bakery (she mentions that if you are sensitive to airborne gluten, it is not a safe place for you), she makes sure that there are a few items for those with other dietary restrictions. Her favorite item? The ugly scone, which is chock full of flax, dried fruit, honey and oats.
So far, the bakery is edging toward the success Hammon knows is possible. She lives down the street and says that Gladstone is a community she sees becoming a place where people can walk to the bakery on a Saturday morning and then enjoy activities in the surrounding area, especially Linden Square. In December, she offered cookie decorating for kids on Saturdays and she says she hopes to offer more classes in the future.
“I think that family and community can be healed by connecting to one another. The way that my family did that was with food. I want to be the place where people know they are welcome.” she says.
She’s well on her way.
Visit The Laughing Place Bakery
504 NE 70th St. Suite B
Kansas City, MO
Open Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday 6 a.m.-12 p.m.