Mallon’s now operating boardwalk stand

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Mallon’s sticky buns are now available on the Ocean City Boardwalk in front of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. Mallon’s sticky buns are now available on the Ocean City Boardwalk in front of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. OCEAN CITY — They’re soft and gooey; a delicious mix of specially blended flour, lots of butter, sugar and cinnamon. With a special topping and raisins, or maybe some nuts, Mallon’s sticky buns have been a family tradition on the island since 1988.

Now open in five locations, including the latest addition on the Ocean City Boardwalk at Sixth Street, Mallon’s operates from the main bakery, where it all began, on the corner of 14th Street and Bay Avenue.

Jody Bourgeois, who owns the bakery with her husband, Ger, said the new, front and center spot on the boardwalk is big news for the family.

“We’re very excited, we’ve wanted to be on the boardwalk for a long time,” she said.

Bourgeois said she worked out a deal with Gillian’s to share space with the funnel cake operation already in place.

Mallon’s operates the concession in the morning. In the afternoons and evenings, funnel cakes are being pedaled out of the same space.

Following a soft opening earlier this month, the bakery officially opened last Saturday.

“It’s a win, win for everyone,” Bourgeois said. “The space sat empty in the morning, now we’re filling the space and it’s great for us. We don’t need a spot all day long, sharing the space makes so much sense. We can’t be open all night and start baking at midnight, so this is great for us. We just sort of fell into this.”

Karen Bradley, who has been with Mallon’s for years, will manage the boardwalk location.

It’s a family affair for the Bourgeois’ and their two children, Robin, a senior at Coastal Carolina and Max, a senior at Ocean City High School, as well as a small army of loyal helpers, who, while not in the bloodline, are considered “family.”

“We’re blessed, we couldn’t do what we do without them,” she said. “We’ve had three couples get married; people who worked here, fell in love and got married. Most of them have been with us for a very long time. It really is the epitome of a family bakery here. We work together. It’s a real team effort. We have a lot of fun. It’s hard work, but we laugh and we make it fun.”

Work begins by midnight; the bakery is busy throughout the wee hours. Finished buns leave the 14th Street bakery promptly at 5 a.m. for the four satellite locations. Jody and Ger split the day; Ger arrives early and leaves to take a nap once the baking is done at about 7 a.m. Jody arrives at 5 a.m. and works until it’s time to quit late in the afternoon. At some point, Ger comes back to assist. Weekends are all hands on deck.

“It’s a bit grueling, but it works,” Bourgeois said. The couple works seven days a week, nonstop from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They ease up a bit in the fall, but crank it up for Christmas when Mallon’s sticky buns are again in demand.

The bakery is open on weekends in the offseason, but every day on the Internet. Reflecting on 24 years, Bourgeois said the couple made the right decision to invest their efforts in sticky buns.

“We enjoy what we do,” she said. “Our customers are our friends. We work with wonderful people and I can’t say enough about the nice people who buy our sticky buns.”

Both Jody and Ger grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, but as lifelong summer residents, have deep ties to Ocean City.

“The day school let out, we were here,” Bourgeois said. “We stayed until it was time for school to start again. We always loved Ocean City.”

The daughter of Judy and Bill Mallon, Bourgeois graduated from LaSalle University with an accounting degree, and spent three years after graduation crunching numbers.

“I couldn’t stand it,” she said.

She set her green eyeshades aside and looked for a new purpose in life. Meanwhile, Ger, then her boyfriend, started a cleaning business. Bourgeois wanted a business of her own; she briefly considered a restaurant.

“My dad said it was too hard, restaurants come and go,” she said. “I always worked in restaurants. I thought I would like it, but my dad suggested a sticky bun bakery instead.”

So Bourgeois enrolled in a bakery program at Atlantic Community College. She stumbled upon some old German sticky bun recipes and after graduating, spent three months playing around with the recipes.

“I came up with some new ones of my own,” she said. “Ger and my dad were my taste testers.”

After perfecting her recipe, Bourgeois opened the doors at 14th Street on April 6, 1988.

“I sold out,” she said. “I was so upset at having to turn people away. They were coming to the door and I had nothing to give them.”

Soon Judy Mallon joined her daughter in the bakery. Ger helped during the day and cleaned at night, with Jody’s help. Along the way the couple married.

“We did that through the summer. We worked all day in the bakery and then we cleaned,” she said. “We were so exhausted at the end of the summer.”

The silver lining to exhaustion was success.

“I think my dad was trying to keep me busy with the bakery, we never expected it would turn into something this big. We never imagined it would support us,” she said.

As the business grew, Jody and Ger began to expand. They bought the corner building and took over a small apartment and storage area on the first floor, and eventually the second floor.

They opened a bakery at 55th Street in Ocean City, in Sea Isle City at 50th Street and Landis Avenue and on 21st Street and Dune Drive in Avalon. The boardwalk store, she said, is a big feather in their cap.

“I credit our success to my dad,” she said. “Here we are, 24 years later, supporting our family with the bakery. Now we have both of our kids involved and five stores. I’m very excited by that.”

Mallon’s ships sticky buns all over the country.

“Our Christmas mail order business has grown tremendously,” she said. “The Internet helped our business grow more than anything.

“I’m still excited by the bakery,” Bourgeois said. “Sometimes I feel tired, but it’s a good feeling to see the business grow, to be successful.

Mallon’s, she said, has a seat at the table at thousands of holiday feasts and festivities. The sticky buns are a tradition.

“Being such a big part of a family tradition, it just makes you feel really good,” she said. “We’ve watched our customers grow up and return with their children.”

Tapping into the boardwalk market, she said, is a welcome challenge.

“This is going to be great, we’re really thrilled,” Bourgeois said.

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