Sutton’s bakery is not big on self-promotion.
In fact, a quick Google search can leave you wondering, “Who is The Baker at Sutton?”
While its website is like a baker’s Pinterest board, revealing photo after photo of perfectly baked sourdoughs, Danish pastries oozing with boysenberries, and cakes you want to stick a fork into, there’s nothing about its people.
So let us introduce you to Nick Smith.
He opened the fast-paced bakery in 2016 following a long-standing joke that was repeated enough times to his children that a seed was eventually planted.
“For about five years, every time I drove through Sutton with the kids I’d say, ‘That’s our next shop,’” says Nick.
He has lived in the village near Canberra since 2010, and loved the charm of its old service station and store.
It was the perfect location to open his second bakery, in the centre of Sutton, but the renovations proved too difficult.
“A lot of the building was condemned before we even moved in so it just wasn’t worth what it would have cost to repair so we knocked it down and rebuilt,” says Nick.
He started baking in Canberra as soon as he left school in year 10, some 35 years ago, and ran several Bakers Delight stores in the capital with his brother for years.
After leaving the franchise, Nick and his wife, Louise, started Crust at Fyshwick Markets. Their daughter, Britney, who returned from Europe at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now also working across the businesses.
Whether it’s a vanilla slice, lamington or iced finger, we all have our bakery favourites, deep-rooted from childhood.
The Baker at Sutton prides itself on doing the classics well and, like Crust, was an opportunity for Nick to break free from the constraints of a franchise.
“It’s a lot more intense here, but it’s a lot more enjoyable because Bakers Delight is very regimented – you do the same things right across the board and there’s no avenue for creativity or adjustments,” says Nick.
“Here, we’ve tried not to do anything radical because of the location, but people will readily identify with some of our classics: apple pies and vanilla slice. We wanted to make the old classics, but make them better.”
Since opening The Baker at Sutton, the village’s thoroughfare seems busier than ever with cyclists, car clubs and retirees regularly popping in for coffee and a sweet treat.
“We didn’t anticipate getting so many car clubs, retirees and cyclists,” says Nick. “We knew we’d get a few, but thought the hardcore cyclists would go to Gundaroo or a little bit further afield. But now we’re the stop.
“It’s also really amazing to see how many caravans come through Sutton. I guess we’re the shortcut between Yass and the coast, but the traffic through the village has been picking up since we moved here.”
For Nick, business is also about supporting local residents.
He has helped Sutton Rural Fire Brigade by providing baked goods for barbecues and hosting a collection box inside the bakery, as well as Sutton Public School with hot cross bun drives and other initiatives.
“You can’t just expect to open the doors and keep on taking – you’ve got to give back,” he says.
Nick is happy keeping the bakery as it is for the next few years, but he sees the opportunity to eventually expand the business into a cafe or restaurant, with the bakery on the side.
He loves the Grounds of Alexandria concept in Sydney, which has built a restaurant, bar, garden, animal farm and florist around the original bakery. He thinks something similar could take off in Sutton.