by Melinda Lejman | photos courtesy of Tracy and Josh Burgess
Baked goods are a triumph all their own, and a delicious one at that. As a challenged baker, I view those with the ability to combine flour, eggs, sugar and a few other ingredients as something of a miracle. But Lucy J’s, a locally owned and operated bakery opening in the Crosstown Concourse, has something bigger in mind.
Lucy J’s Bakery, named after the children of creators Tracy and Josh Burgess, will not only serve up delicious baked items, such as breads, cakes, pies and danishes, but will pay their employees a living wage at $15 per hour. “We wouldn’t have started the bakery if we couldn’t pay a living wage,” says Tracy.
Born out of her work with Dorothy Day House, a nonprofit which provides temporary housing to homeless families, and a once troubled marriage, keeping families together is at the heart of everything at Lucy J’s. It was on the recommendation of their priest that Josh and Tracy started baking together, never dreaming it would become more than a hobby. “We were a young family, we had two young kids and the chaos that can come from that,” shares Tracy. “We never expected the baking to be anything long term.” But when people started asking them to make wedding and birthday cakes on a regular basis, they decided to make it a business.
Actually, Lucy J’s Bakery is a nonprofit. When Tracy and Josh went looking for investors to fund their living wage venture, they were met with quite a bit of skepticism, so they went another route. “We’re operated by a board of directors who are supportive of the mission and the study of living wages and their effects on the families.”
The bakery itself will be run by six employees: three from Dorothy Day House and three core employees whom Tracy and Josh have worked with over the years in the restaurant business. Josh will manage the bakery and each employee will be paired with a counterpoint. “We’ll pair a core employee with a Dorothy Day House employee to create service teams,” says Tracy. “So, we’ll have a back of the house team, a front of the house team, and a cake decorating team.”
That’s right – they do cakes, including wedding cakes, regardless of who is marrying whom. “We see those stories of bakeries refusing to make a wedding cake for a couple that pop up every once in a while, and our response is always, ‘Please come to us!’” Tracy says. She recounted the story of a wedding cake she made for friends who were marrying in Oklahoma and who asked her to make their cake to avoid any discrimination. “It was one of my favorite cakes we’ve ever done,” says Tracy. “They had a beautiful wedding and a beautiful cake.”
In addition to all the baked goodies, Lucy J’s will offer regular coffee on a pay-what- you-can basis with proceeds benefiting Dorothy Day House.Tracy hopes to open mid-November, just in time for pie season. Make sure you stop by, grab a cup of coffee and something delicious, knowing you’re giving in to more than just a sweet tooth.
Tracy Burgess is the Development Director for Dorothy Day House. To learn more about what they do and how you can
get involved, visit dorothydaymemphis.org.