After working seventeen years for Key’s Bakery, Mrs. Viola Mills agreed to follow the recommendations of her son Silbert and went into a business partnership with an American that her son had met, Mr. Doug Warner. She was an experienced baker, he provided the funds. Together, in 1978/79, they opened Island Bakery which was then located in Thompson Plaza.
Thirty four years later, Island Bakery still supplies many residents of Abaco with fresh breads and delicious pastries. After buying out Mr. Warner, the Mills decided to build a shop on a Crown Land lot that Viola’s husband, Mr. Bertram Mills, owned and by the mid-eighties, Island Bakery opened its doors on the site it presently occupies.
The location had changed but not the product and until 1994 when she passed away, Mrs. Mills continued to run the bakery. Her knowledge and recipes did not pass with her though. She had handed them to her two daughters, Bertlyn Linden and Julia Mills who now run the business with the help of a niece, Georgia Cornish.
The two sisters have divided the tasks, with Bertlyn managing the business and baking bread and Julia baking, pastries, cakes and cookies. They also have the help of two cashiers and a kitchen employee.
In spite of the drop in the economy and the raising price of supplies which according to Bertlyn Linden, have made it a challenge, the business still thrives.
“We try to make everything fresh everyday”, explained Mrs. Linden, a good reason to ensure the patronage of Marsh Harbour residents and beyond.
Day in and day out, you will find the same breads on the rack and the same pastries in the display case, but now and again, Julia Mills will put out new items such as pumpkin roll, guava duff, coconut or pineapple pies, macaroni and cheese or sandwiches for lunch.
Hamburger buns and hotdog rolls are special orders. For a minimum order of half a dozen, the baker will make apple turnovers. French bread can also be ordered with a minimum of four.
A business has to always renew itself to keep the customers interested. This will happen when Corinne Cornish, another niece, presently away at culinary school, will return to Abaco. She will put to work her newly acquired skills by tempting the patrons with European pastries!