DAVIDSON – In mapping out the next step of her life’s journey, Tara Ragan zeroed in on two things vital to her and her adopted hometown.
“Chocolate croissants and French baguettes,” Ragan said with a smile during a chat on the front porch of her new Gâteau on Main bakery and dessert bar in downtown Davidson.
In her career as a professional sports agent – work with some area NASCAR drivers contributed to her move here in 2009 – Ragan visited many places and developed an appreciation for establishments catering to folks looking for just the right kind of sweet, baked treat day and night.
“Davidson is a great place, it has almost everything you’d ever need,” Ragan said. “But it needed a dessert bar.”
When Millstone Bake House & Provisions – which used to satisfy Ragan’s chocolate croissant cravings – closed, the idea for a bakery begin to simmer. Later, when a candy shop vacated the first-floor space in a home-like setting creating a rare opening in Davidson’s retail core, Ragan saw it as a sign to act.
“It was kind of serendipitous. I couldn’t pass it up,” she said.
Steps toward opening Gâteau (French for cake) began last July. One of the early hurdles was fitting new ovens into the 700-square-foot space. “We had about an eighth-of-an-inch clearance through the doors,” Ragan said.
Then things got really tricky. After a Christmas in Davidson debut the first of December, there was a staff shake-up related to the high demand generated by customer response. Ragan re-grouped, re-staffed and re-opened in early January, two days before a personal staff emergency triggered a second shutdown.
“I was prepared for the normal unknowns, permitting, supplies, building issues, things like that,” she said. “But not this.”
Ragan said she didn’t want to open again until everything was ready. Now it is.
Rebecca Miller is the executive pastry chef and fills the role Ragan described as “creative director” on a team-oriented staff dedicate to providing “intentional, heartfelt and handcrafted” goods.
Ragan laughed and added that during job discussions with Miller, she told her “We need to have chocolate croissants and French baguettes. After that, it’s up to you.”
The business opens early and stays open late. “An hour after the restaurants close,” Ragan said. And the plan, with starts and unexpected stops now in the past, is for Gâteau on Main to stay open for a long time to come.
“The third time’s the charm,” Ragan said.