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Monday, October 25, 2021

‘We’re more than just a business:’ Uptown family bakery with a Douglass influence cooks for the Kingsport community

Amy Ferguson, Jacqueline Wood Ross and Lynette Reese and their bakery, the Uptown Family Bakery and ready to serve the people of Kingsport.  Jackie Ross is a Douglass Elementary School graduate and her daughter Lynette is a Douglass descendant.

By Marina Waters - courtesy the Kingsport Times-News

KINGSPORT — The owners of Uptown Family Bakery have overcome typical new business woes such as fixing plumbing issues, establishing the store set up and forming the bakery menu. But lately, their biggest task has been keeping up with the community’s appetite.

“We are learning to keep up with the rate at which things are selling,’ said Jacqueline Ross, the co-owner of Uptown Family Bakery. “The support has been overwhelming.”

The bakery has seen a steady flow of customers stopping by for cream cheese rolls, cinnamon rolls, Oreo whoopie pies, cupcakes and more.

The bakery opened last month at 129 E. New St. in Kingsport and has seen a steady flow of customers stopping by for lemon cookies, pumpkin rolls, cupcakes and more. Ross said last week a woman sat in her car just before 7:30 a.m. when the bakery opened hoping to snag cupcakes and cinnamon rolls just before another customer came in that morning, buying the rest of the batch of cinnamon rolls.

If you were to ask Ross what the bakery’s secret is, she’d likely say it comes down to three words she repeated multiple times while talking with the Times-News: made from scratch.

“We have old-fashioned baked goods that people are running after,” Ross said. “We have a cream cheese roll and a cinnamon roll that is made from scratch. People run after those. We bake a couple of pans a day, but we’re about to advance to three or four pans a day.

"We also make the old fashioned, made-from-scratch, homemade cakes, too. We do yellow cakes and vanilla buttermilk cakes with caramel icing. We can’t keep them.”

Ross manages the bakery while her daughter, Lynette Reese, puts her baking skills to the test. Reese honed her cooking experience while raising nine kids and taking a few notes when she worked at Rose Cottage Bakery, which once resided on Market Street in Downtown Kingsport.

Reese made everything from fresh bread to cookies at the former bakery, which left a spot in the community Ross and Reese hope to fill.

“Ever since they left we have had a desire to revive a bakery,” Ross said. “(Reese) worked there, and I bought a lot of stuff there. The owner used to joke and say I was one of the reasons she made it when she started out because I bought so much from her. Like people load up here, I used to load up on stuff there.”

Reese puts her own spin on a Rose Cottage classic, the cream cheese roll, which has been a best seller for Uptown Bakery.

“She’s got a little bit of a different recipe that’s a little more rich,” Ross said. “People love those cream cheese rolls.”

The bakery also offers gooey cinnamon rolls, lemon cookies, chess bars, pumpkin rolls, cupcakes, Oreo whoopie pies, brownies and cakes, which Ross and Reese both said are the most popular, next to the cinnamon rolls and cream cheese rolls.

The focus remains on old-fashioned desserts, but the family also strives to provide community members with what they’ve been waiting for — a community bakery.

“A man came in who lives downtown and said he passes here all the time and was waiting for us to open,” Ross said. “We’re surprised at the number of people who come in and have seen us working on things and say, ‘We’ve been waiting.’ They come in and they say, “we’ve been waiting.’ It’s been an outpouring of support.”

Ross and Reese might be surprised at how many batches of cream cheese rolls and cakes they’ve churned out since the bakery’s opening. But Ross likely isn’t surprised their family dream has worked as it has after envisioning the downtown storefront for many years.

“It just felt like the right time,” Ross said about opening the bakery. “I believe there is a time for everything. This was just a step of faith. It’s something we’ve had in our heart, to provide a community bakery.”

More than providing deserts and future lunch items and fresh-baked bread, Ross said what means the most is providing old-fashioned food and a comforting place for the community.

“It’s a connection to the community,” Ross said. “It’s not just a business. A lady came in the other day and said this has become one of my favorite places. She brought all of us to tears. She said, ‘It’s kind of like my refuge.’ It’s more than just buying stuff — she’s bought like three pumpkin rolls.

“It’s more than just coming to a business. We’re more than just a business.”

Uptown Family Bakery is open Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (423) 765-0379 or go to