Jennifer Pressler wasn’t sure if it would work.
Part of her concern was that there were a lot of people who weren’t confident a new bakery would pan out in Port Matilda.
That was a year ago, and Taste Buds at 104 N. High. St. has now expanded into an eatery with lunch and dinner specials. Business picked up enough, she said, that they had to do renovations in their kitchen to accommodate the increased workload.
Pressler hosted Taste Buds’ grand reopening Wednesday, talked about the business and explained what inspired her to open it.
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Q: Why did you open Taste Buds?
A: I always, always, always wanted to own a bakery or candy shop. Then my mom got sick with cancer, and I used to tell her someday I was going to open a bakery. I told her again, and at that point she didn’t remember me, and she said, “Oh, my daughter’s going to open one, too, and she’s going to call it Taste Buds.” I had never had a name picked out if I really ever decided to do it. I thought, “well that’s a sign, I’m going to call it Taste Buds.” That was it. So, we call it Taste Buds, like the buds are all of our friends that come in.
Q: Why do you keep your menu simple?
A: All our food is very, very old-fashioned. I don’t try to do anything crazy. I have a lot of older folks that come here, and they’re also old-fashioned. They like simple stuff. The community here really embraced it, and I’m fortunate for that.
Q: You said the community embraced it. Was it like that in the beginning?
A: There were a couple of them that really liked the idea. A lot were kind of like, “I don’t know about that. I don’t think it’ll work.” Even my landlord wasn’t sure if it’d work. Now, it’s working. A lot of people weren’t sure, because there’s not too much in this town. They were worried it wouldn’t work, but I think they wanted it to work.
Q: Were you worried when you started the business?
A: Oh, yeah. I didn’t know what would happen, so I was even worried. Then I started getting some big orders for cupcakes and cakes and some other things, and now people here don’t have to go all the way to State College for those things. Then I decided to try lunches, too, and it’s just grown. We only did baked goods for a while, but then we tried some new things like soup and a sandwich. And we just keep adding something new for everyone to try.
Q: Why are you having a grand reopening?
A: We had to have new sinks in the back. I was closed for a few weeks, and everyone was in turmoil in the town. Why wasn’t I around? The rumors started to fly. We reopened and it’s been busy since. The sinks I had were little, and we needed a much deeper, bigger sink.
Q: How’s it feel a year later to say you’re continuing to grow the business?
A: It’s an amazing feeling. There’s a high to it when you accomplish something. For a long time I could have never imagined I would accomplish this. Now it’s, what’s next? I can’t do too much more because I work another full-time job.
Q: Where else do you work?
A: I’m a fraternity cook (for Phi Sigma Kappa). God love them, because they’re on their own today for eating. They’ll be OK for one day. (laughs). We had our first commercial on the radio yesterday, and they were all cheering me on. They’re always telling me good luck and supporting me. I’ve been working there for eight years. I’m like their mom. I try to take care of them and yell at them when they need it. And they like to come here on wing nights, and if they don’t we take it to them.
Q: Why’d you do this in Port Matilda and not State College?
A: It’s close to home and the rent is cheap. I live seven minutes away. My best friend owns the building, so when it became available I told him my idea. He said, “OK, you might be crazy.” Now, he says, “You’re still crazy, but it’s working.” And I just wanted something small and wanted to do something small for the community.
Q: What have you learned from the business?
A: Oh, a lot. I learned a lot about time management. I’m over here very early, leave here to go to work and come back here. There’s a lot of time consuming things, so I had to learn to manage my time wisely.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to make for yourself?
A: I don’t know. I don’t make much for myself. My favorite is raisin-filled cookies.
Q: Did you learn to cook from your mom?
A: Yup, when I was little and growing up. Even when I was older she was still telling me how I should cook. My grandmother on my dad’s side was always baking, so it must be a natural thing. I always liked to bake and cook. And I always wanted to do something like this. When my mom passed, I decided I was going to do it. What did I have to lose? And here we are.