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)

A Sour Ending to a Sweet Thing? Mary’s Sweet Bread bakery struggles to stay open

By Russ Morey
Filed under: Newspaper Articles
The Stonington Times
4/3/2008

Tucked away on an unassuming side street along the Pawcatuck River, on the bottom floor of an average-looking house, there is a bakery that produces Portuguese sweet bread, an almost forgotten Stonington tradition adopted from the Old World. Once a thriving business that worked to full capacity around the clock to meet local demand, the sweet bread bakery of 59-year-old Stonington native Mary Soares, “The Bread Lady,” is in danger of closing up shop. Numerous factors have contributed to the decline of Soares’ business, the chief cause being the state of the economy. “People don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes and how much everything costs,” Soares explained. “The price of flour is up, sugar is up, it’s really tough…Everything costs money, even the little things. First you obviously pay for all the ingredients, but you’re also paying for the bags for the bread, the labels, the ink for the labels, the ties for the bags, business cards, advertising, and then you have to transport it after you’re done, and we all know what the cost of gas is like.” Soares estimates that since she first went commercial with her business 10 years ago, the cost to make a loaf of bread has more than doubled, leaving Soares no other option but to raise her own prices and look for side jobs to make ends meet. After years of hard work expanding her Portuguese sweet bread bakery from the ground up, the decision of whether to close her doors weighs heavily on Soares. Yet with typical defiance and a fighting spirit that she attributes to her heritage, Soares has resolved that her bakery will not go softly into the night. “I’ve thought many times over the past two years about closing up my doors, but that’s just not me, not now, not after all I’ve been through,” Soares said. “This started out as my dream and it still is today, so I’m going to do everything I can to keep this ship afloat.” Portuguese “through and through,” Soares is the daughter of a Portuguese immigrant who came to America for a new beginning, finding himself drawn to the coastal village of Stonington where he earned a reputation as a skilled fisherman. While always well provided for, Soares was raised in a very strict household. Not allowed to date, Soares was married at age 16 to a man cut from the same cloth as her father, a reputable Portuguese fisherman. Within a year Soares gave birth to the first of her five children. It wasn’t long after that Soares’ mother first began to teach her the traditional family sweet bread recipe that had been handed down from generation to generation. A superstitious woman, Soares’ mother taught her all of the rituals involved in preparing the recipe, but, most important, Soares learned from her that it’s not just the ingredients that make a good loaf, it’s the care and passion of the baker that make a good sweet bread. Soon Soares adopted her mother’s other tradition of always offering her sweet bread to guests in her home. And in 1988 Soares began selling her bread for $4.75 a loaf to a local shop in Stonington, the owner of which had tasted the bread at Soares’ house. While relishing in the joy of raising her children and perfecting her baking techniques, Soares also endured decades of patriarchal rule under her husband that prohibited her from even venturing about town on her own. To this day, she still feels the lasting effects from years of being sheltered. “There was a time that it was scary for me to drive around town by myself,” Soares admitted. But after 33 years of marriage, after all her children were living on their own and after caring for her parents during their final years, Soares said she looked deep inside and knew she had the courage to finally start a life of her own. Following her divorce in 1997, Soares decided to open her own business, purchasing additional equipment and dedicating the lower level of her home to her new profession. It wasn’t long before Soares had bought herself a GPS in order to find her way around the local towns and to all of the area farmer’s markets. Soares also began delivering her bread to McQuade’s Marketplace in Westerly and Mystic. Business was steady, so in 2003 Soares invested in her Web site, www.maryssweetbread.com. The site not only allows online purchases, but also tells her story and the tradition of Portuguese sweet bread and even features numerous articles about Soares and her craft, including a spot in the New York Times. And while everything in her life finally seemed positive, tragedy struck. At a routine checkup, her physician found an abnormality and referred Soares to a surgeon to better assess the situation. The surgeon, in turn, referred her to an oncologist, and Soares was told she had a rapid-growing cancer. Preparing for the worst, Soares made all of the arrangements necessary and rewrote her will. For two years Soares underwent multiple surgeries and procedures, none of which seemed to help. Finally, extreme chemotherapy was suggested, but Soares wanted one final biopsy before undergoing such debilitating treatment. Little did she know that she would soon have the shock of her life. According to the surgeon, the biopsy was “misplaced” by a negligent nurse. “An alarm just went off in my head,” Soares said. “Things just didn’t seem right, you know? They just weren’t adding up.” Stepping away from the situation, Soares sought out one of the area’s premier specialists and soon found that she never had cancer, in fact, she only had a virus, treatable with medication. All of the surgeries, procedures, and nearly chemotherapy had been completely unnecessary, not to mention the thousands of dollars spent in medical bills. Motivated to take legal action, Soares was advised that the lawsuit would cost her a tremendous amount of money and negligence would be hard to prove. Even still, she contacted officials and the situation is currently under investigation by the Board of Medical Review in Rhode Island. Through it all however, Soares said she is determined to go at least one more year, hoping to turn enough profit to allow her to keep her bakery open. “It’s been a hard run as of late, but you learn from each and every experience and it makes you push to keep going,” Soares said. “I almost stopped when I didn’t feel well, but I love what I’m doing. I’m so happy to have gone this far and carry on my mother’s tradition. I hope it continues as long as it can, but if it doesn’t I can’t complain too much. My bread has done so much for me, and my life has been better off for it.”