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Reilly’s Bakery: A century of excellent baking

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[dropcap]R[/dropcap]eilly’s bakery has been located in Biddeford, Maine for over a hundred plus years serving the locals and tourists delicious bakery items. They are a family business with four generations working at the bakery and hope to keep the bakery going strong for many more to come. A hundred years is a staggering number considering 60% of new restaurants and bakeries don’t make it to their first anniversary and 80% don’t make it to their fifth anniversary. Statistics like that make it even more amazing that Reilly’s has  been open for over a hundred years. Despite small hiccups, they have managed to remain a strong business in downtown Biddeford while keeping old customers coming back for more and creating new customers that will be coming back for a lifetime.

When I first arrived at 3:30 a.m. in the morning I was greeted by the one employee who had been there since 2:00 a.m. He was the husband of the first person I was looking to meet, Elizabeth, who is a member of the fourth generation of bakers at Reilly’s.  It was 4:00 when she arrived and she began telling me about Reilly’s rich history. The bakery still uses machinery from the fifties, and according to her and most of the other staff I spoke with, the older machines make better products. Just like the equipment, the recipes have also been passed down from generation to generation and are still made to perfection.

The next person to arrive around 4:30 was a baker named Andrew, he has been working at Reilly’s for just about two years. Andrew always loved baking for people at home and began to look at baking as a possible career. He was taught how to make Reilly’s recipes from scratch and how to perfect them. Most days he bakes from 4:30 a.m. to noon and some days it could just be donuts. He bakes up to 25 dozen a day and with over 15 varieties of donuts he stays busy. “Recipes make the people come back and the will to commit to customers orders make us stay in business,” he said as he started to make another batch of honey glazed donuts. He loves the work and the atmosphere and feeling you get at when you work at a bakery with such rich history. “It’s a family oriented staff even if you’re not family, you feel like you belong here.”

The final person I spoke with was a new decorator named Mia. She had been working at Reilly’s for a little over a year. She arrived around 5:00 and began to decorate donuts. As she began to ice some donuts with chocolate frosting, I began to ask her about the ways she had learned to decorate and the history behind the way bakery items are made in this bakery. She believes “simple is better and that sometimes if you over do-it you’ll end up with a complicated mess instead of a quality product.” Reilly’s has been using almost all the same recipes from when they opened with a few additions here and there like their cheesecakes which they just started selling more and more. She also said that she decorates and helps out front making sales when she can before jumping back into the kitchen to decorate more delicious products. Having to be on her feet all the time may be tough but she doesn’t mind it. She loves to be able to decorate and be able to greet customers throughout the whole day. Finally I asked her more about her first couple weeks on the job and how working at such a highly respected bakery felt. She said that it was hard at first, but the other staff was very patient with her through her first couple of months. She learned, “Everyone makes mistakes, just keep pushing and working.” Mia wants to make her job a career one day and hopes she’ll be able to decorate other items like wedding cakes in the near future.  

While the people who run Reilly’s keep it going, their loyal customers also play a vital role. “I truly love their customer service and their local homemade doughnuts. The plain doughnuts with the chocolate frosting have always been a treat,” said Nikki Ledoux, a frequent patron and Thornton Academy senior. “Everytime my dad comes up from Florida, he takes me and my brother out the next morning for breakfast at Reilly’s Bakery. My Meme and Pepe used to take my dad there every Sunday morning so he likes to do that when he’s here for his kids. We get a half-dozen, two donuts for each of us, and people are always super friendly. My brother and I love the chocolate frosted ones, each bite is like heaven. So every time I have one of their doughnuts it reminds me of my dad and grandparents.”

Reilly’s bakery is a stand out business in our local community. Their friendly and hardworking staff is what has kept the bakery open for over a hundred years. The dedication from generation to generation means that customers can count on enjoying their delicious donuts, cheesecakes, hot crossed buns, and much more!

It was an amazing experience to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and be in Reilly’s during their baking process, it really shows you what the employees go through in the very early mornings all the way until the afternoon to make your beloved bakery items.


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