Greene gears up for the holidays at 14th Street Bakery

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Submitted / From left are Caitlin, Kelsey, Cathy, Mackenzie, Shannon and Danielle Greene at Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery. Submitted / From left are Caitlin, Kelsey, Cathy, Mackenzie, Shannon and Danielle Greene at Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery.

OCEAN CITY — With its pink striped awning and homespun atmosphere, Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery looks like something out of the 1950s.

While it’s the island’s newest outlet for fresh baked bread, cakes, Danish, doughnuts, cookies and sticky buns, the building’s origins as a bakery date back to 1962.

The original baker, Jim Arasz, still owns the building and lives upstairs. Arasz helped train the newest entrepreneur, Cathy Greene, who is using some of his old-fashioned bakery equipment and recipes.

Greene says the bakery, located between Asbury and Central Avenues on 14th Street, is a “small, simple place” and, oh by the way, it’s “really fun.”

She’s “baking memories by the beach” and couldn’t be happier.

“People love Ocean City. All winter they think about being here, they can’t wait to come back,” she said. “It’s all about nostalgia, and I wanted a bakery that would evoke a memory of Grandma.”

Greene long dreamed of owning her own bakery. While she’s had her hands in various baking-related endeavors over the years, the mother of seven waited decades to go full throttle.

When she opened in June, the “Greene Girls,” Shannon, Mackenzie and Kelsey worked the counter, with part-time assistance from older sisters Caitlin and Danielle, who have other jobs. Younger brothers Korey and Tyler helped out, too.

“We all had to learn how to run a business like this,” said Greene, adding that her offspring did a fabulous job of running the counter. During the summer, cousins Megan and Kiernan McCloskey joined the fun.

The family run enterprise, Greene said, was a serendipitous find.

Arasz operated the bakery from 1962 to 1985. According to Greene, he sold the bakery and bought it back. Jennifer Bowman operated a bakery for a while in the location, and then Rich Evans opened Brothers Bakery in the space. Greene had long decorated cakes for Evans. When he closed the bakery, Greene thought it could be the opportunity to make her long-held dream come true.

“I turned an empty space into a bakery,” she said.

It was however, no easy feat.

“I wanted a Small Business Administration, SBA loan,” she said. “I went to seven banks.”

The loans offered did not meet her needs, so Greene said she did what her husband vowed not to do and took the money from their savings.

“We made it work,” she said.

One of eight children, Cathy Greene was born and raised in Horsham, Pa. Her French grandfather made bread for a living.

“He used Robin Hood flour, and sometimes when I’m baking bread it takes me back 45 years,” she said.

When she was 12, she learned how to decorate cakes and went to work for The Little Bake Shop in Horsham. She started her own cake business in high school, making birthday and anniversary cakes.

“When I was a little girl, we’d go into a bakery and I would ask for them for their recipes,” Greene said. “I wanted to learn how to make all of those delicious goodies. The recipes I am using now are from the Temple Bakery in Philadelphia, which Jim Arasz owned.”

After graduating Hatboro-Horsham High School in 1978, Greene went to Montgomery County Community College and then spent a year in France, working for a French clothing designer. She returned stateside to attend Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, which is now Philadelphia University.

“I was going to be a clothing designer,” said the multi-talented Greene.

Over the years, she has designed and made costumes for productions at Ocean City High School and numerous proms, theater camps and pageants for her daughters. She also cuts hair.

Creativity, she said, makes her world go round. She’s also been a track and cross country mom as her husband has been a longtime coach for both sports at Ocean City High School and her children are all present and former harriers.

“I like to do 10 things at once,” she said with a big smile.

Controlled chaos is the norm in a home with seven children.

Greene met her husband, Kevin, a local architect, in high school. They were reacquainted at an alumni meet.

“I was on the girls track team and he was on the boys, we were just friends in high school,” Greene said. “He was at Spring Garden College and I was at Textile and we went to the alumni meet. We started going out, and we got engaged on the track. We had to climb a fence to do it, but Kevin proposed on the track on June 28, 1981.”

They married in 1983. Kevin went to work for an architectural firm in Philadelphia. In the spring of 1984, he applied for a job with Michael Hyland in Ocean City and the couple moved to the shore.

Daughter Danielle was the first born in 1985, followed by Caitlin in 1987, Kelsey in 1989, Shannon in 1992, Mackenzie in 1997, son Korey in the 1999 and son Tyler in 2002.

Greene’s dream of owning a bakery took a backseat to raising children, but she did make an attempt with the Enchanted Garden Tea Room, in the corner of the Enchanted Garden, which was on the corner of Eighth Street and Asbury Avenue.

“I served quiche and soups,” Greene said. “I had four children then, and it was hard. I sold the business.”

When she’s not baking, Greene spends time with her seven sewing machines, working on various productions.

When Danielle is married next June, Greene will make the cake, but not the dress, which narrowly escaped the wrath of Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters last week. Stored in a closet of her husband’s office “to keep it safe,” Greene said the wedding dress did not get wet.

“It was a miracle,” she said. “We can only assume that angels held it up.”

While she helps her husband get his architectural business back up and running, Greene was beginning the arduous process of making hundreds of apple, pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving. She will also make the doughnuts and all of the other goodies necessary to get through a, hopefully, busy holiday weekend.

“This is nothing next to the summer,” said Greene, who worked seven days a week for more than three months.

“I would arrive at 4 a.m. to bake and get ready for opening at 7 a.m.,” she said.

Children scheduled to work rode their bicycles to the bakery. At some point, she would return home for a quick nap, only to return to make sticky buns for the following morning. 

“I was here until midnight or 1 a.m. I think I slept about an hour and a half at any one time,” she said.

Sleeplessness aside, Greene said it’s worth all of the sacrifice.

“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I want a place where people are comfortable. We offer a $1 cup of coffee, if you bring your own cup. I make eight kinds of Danish, my doughnuts are humongous. This is not someone else’s idea of a bakery, it’s mine. I’m using an old-fashioned Belshaw crank doughnut machine.

“Working with my family, it just doesn’t get any better,” she said. “I think I could be a little destination here. I’m the kind of girl who’s happy to improvise. If someone wants something, I’ll try to make it work. It’s all about service; I will go the extra mile.”   

Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene opened her bakery on 14th Street in Ocean City in June. Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene opened her bakery on 14th Street in Ocean City in June.

Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene serves doughnuts, Danish, cookies and more at her 14th Street Bakery in Ocean City. Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene serves doughnuts, Danish, cookies and more at her 14th Street Bakery in Ocean City.

Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene prepares dough at her bakery. Ann Richardson / Cathy Greene prepares dough at her bakery.

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