Mary's Sweet Bread
10 Mark Street
Pawcatuck, CT 06379
(860) 599-0340

Mary's Sweet Bread

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DateNameSource Category
2/2/2009Farmers' markets crop up in the areaThe Stonington-Mystic Times From freshly picked strawberries to home-baked pastries, the recently opened farmer’s market... Newspaper Articles
2/2/2009Baking Bread to Make DoughThe Stonington Times Pawcatuck -- On a hot, humid day, when most are finding solace in a swimming pool or air-con... Newspaper Articles
4/3/2008A Sour Ending to a Sweet Thing? Mary’s Sweet Bread bakery struggles to stay openThe Stonington Times Tucked away on an unassuming side street along the Pawcatuck River, on the bottom floor of a... Newspaper Articles
8/17/2007Farmers' market offers more than produceThe Westerly Pawcatuck Press WESTERLY - Drive along Main Street from Friday to Wednesday during the summer and you’ll see... Newspaper Articles
7/25/2007Doesn’t Come FresherThe Providence Journal-Bulletin WESTERLY Going to the Westerly-Pawcatuck Farmers Market is like visiting the garden to see w... Newspaper Articles
7/17/2007Free Samples Banned At Farmers' MarketThe Day Stonington — No more free slices of Portuguese sweet bread. No more tastes of salsa and dip.... Newspaper Articles
7/2/2006Baking A Loaf, Making A LivingThe Day Marketplace Raised in a traditional Portuguese family, Mary Soares' life revolved around what was happen... Newspaper Articles
4/16/2003Resurrection of a family traditionThe Day It was a ritual when Mary Mattos Soares made her Portuguese sweet bread. Every detail had... Newspaper Articles
5/17/1987FARE OF THE COUNTRY: Sweet Bread, Portuguese StyleThe New York Times Some Sunday mornings in the country, when work does not call, we set out the margarine, the ... Newspaper Articles
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2/2/2009 The Stonington-Mystic Times
Farmers' markets crop up in the area
From freshly picked strawberries to home-baked pastries, the recently opened farmer’s markets in Mystic seem to have it all. Familie... (more)
2/2/2009 The Stonington Times
Baking Bread to Make Dough
Pawcatuck -- On a hot, humid day, when most are finding solace in a swimming pool or air-conditioned room, Mary Soares, "the bread l... (more)
4/3/2008 The Stonington Times
A Sour Ending to a Sweet Thing? Mary’s Sweet Bread bakery struggles to stay open
Tucked away on an unassuming side street along the Pawcatuck River, on the bottom floor of an average-looking house, there is a bake... (more)
8/17/2007 The Westerly Pawcatuck Press
Farmers' market offers more than produce
WESTERLY - Drive along Main Street from Friday to Wednesday during the summer and you’ll see the same old brick buildings and be met... (more)
7/25/2007 The Providence Journal-Bulletin
Doesn’t Come Fresher
WESTERLY Going to the Westerly-Pawcatuck Farmers Market is like visiting the garden to see what’s ready to pick. Except there are... (more)
7/17/2007 The Day
Free Samples Banned At Farmers' Market
Stonington — No more free slices of Portuguese sweet bread. No more tastes of salsa and dip. No more chunks of fresh tomato. No more... (more)
7/2/2006 The Day Marketplace
Baking A Loaf, Making A Living
Raised in a traditional Portuguese family, Mary Soares' life revolved around what was happening inside the four walls of her parents... (more)
4/16/2003 The Day
Resurrection of a family tradition
It was a ritual when Mary Mattos Soares made her Portuguese sweet bread. Every detail had to be just right. Her husband and si... (more)
5/17/1987 The New York Times
FARE OF THE COUNTRY: Sweet Bread, Portuguese Style
Some Sunday mornings in the country, when work does not call, we set out the margarine, the strawberry jam and the apple butter, and... (more)

Baking Bread to Make Dough

"Bread Lady's" dream finally paying off

By Tom Kasprzak
Filed under: Newspaper Articles
The Stonington Times
2/2/2009

Pawcatuck -- On a hot, humid day, when most are finding solace in a swimming pool or air-conditioned room, Mary Soares, "the bread lady" stands watch over four ovens that bake her famous Portuguese sweet bread. It has become Soares' full-time job; no more casino work, no more hourly wages, she is working for herself now, her own boss, and to Soares, there is nothing better. She has recently secured an account with McQuade's supermarkets in Mystic and Westerly to carry her Portuguese sweet bread. Soares hopes the recently acquired account will begin the steps to never having to work an hourly wage job again. "Way back when my kids were young I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom," Soares said, explaining why she began selling her bread to local shops and at farmer's markets. It was always a tough road for Soares, brought up in a strict Portuguese family where she was taught to obey men and not think for herself. "My parents were very, very strict Portuguese. I went to church, I went to school and I went back home. That was it. There were no dances, there were no basketball games, there was nothing," Soares said. She was married at 16 to a man she said her father would have been better off marrying because they got along so well. "My father loved my ex-husband; he was Portuguese, my father was Portuguese. My ex-husband had been married before, divorced before, my father was married and divorced. My father was a commercial fisherman, my ex-husband was a commercial fisherman. They should have gotten married," Soares laughs. Soares had five children, the first one a year after her marriage. For 33 years Soares was married and said she was told how to dress, when to go out, and how to have her hair done. But the one thing Soares always did herself was bake her bread. She learned the Portuguese sweet bread recipe from her mother, perfecting it in her own way. Soares said the ingredients to the bread are the same across the board, but the taste of it depends on the person baking it. Soares said she would always give a piece of sweet bread and a cup of coffee to guests at her home. Her ex-mother-in-law thought the bread was so good she gave it to the owner of the Sugar and Spice store in Stonington, where Soares first began selling it. Soares knew she had a good product, but hadn't thought to venture out on her own. Afraid to leave her husband while her parents were alive because of the shame she would feel from her father, Soares concentrated on her children, and her bread, and when her parents fell ill, she took them both in and cared for them until they passed. "I took care of both of them. Ten months after my father died I just said, 'ya know, I can't do this anymore.' My kids were grown and I was totally unhappy. I felt I've done for everybody else and I forgot to put my name on the list to do for," Soares said. Soares then found her courage and divorced her husband, venturing into a world she had never thought possible in her life -- a world of freedom, a place to think and act for herself. Even though she lived in Pawcatuck her whole life, Soares said she would get lost leaving the house because she did not know the streets around town -- but she did it. Soares began working multiple jobs, paying off debt that had accrued from the divorce and other life expenses, and of course kept baking and selling her sweet bread. For years Soares worked seven days a week, paying off debts and saving what she could. Finally, two years ago, she was debt-free and began making her living exclusively selling her bread. "It wasn't until two years ago I gave up all my jobs, finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was out of debt and I knew that I didn't want to be 70 years old and wonder what would have happened if I had the courage to see what this bread could do," Soares said. Soares says it was a huge risk, giving up her hourly wage jobs, placing all her eggs not in one basket, but in her mixing vats, creating the golden dough that would rise, not only to make her famous bread, but also to create a future in which she was completely independent in her personal life and in her work. Soares began the long road to business success by looking for a business loan from the state. Soares said she was shocked when she was denied based on the fact that Connecticut did not give business loans, at the time, to 10 towns in the state, including Stonington, because it believed them to be too wealthy. "They thought (Stonington) was too wealthy and they didn't need it. Well, Stonington does have wealthy but they have hard-working people who do need loans," Soares said. With state Rep. Diana Urban, R-North Stonington, crusading to change the loan status for towns like Stonington, and Soares questioning the state's motives, the state changed its decision, allowing Stonington town residents to receive business loans in October 2003. Soares was asked to speak with Urban and other business owners after the law went into effect, something Soares was intimidated by, but will always be proud of. "I was standing amongst people I never ever thought I would or could because all my life I was told I couldn't. And yes I could," Soares said. Soares did not wait for the state loan, instead taking out an equity loan and purchasing equipment to make her bread. The first two years of Soares' business have been a challenge, but now that McQuade's has picked up her bread in the Westerly and Mystic stores, Soares said she is busier than ever and sees her business rising as quickly as her dough.