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Olde Tymes buys Gracie Mae's Kitchen

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published July 03. 2013 4:00AM

Norwich restaurant will be the new home for popular Griswold bakery

Norwich - Gracie Mae's Kitchen of Griswold, a popular bakery of homemade pies, cookies and coffee cakes, has moved to Olde Tymes Restaurant on West Main Street starting today.

Olde Tymes owner Rodney Green announced that he purchased the bakery and its kitchen equipment from founder and owner Jennifer Chominski on Sunday and reopened the bakery Tuesday at Olde Tymes. Chominski will remain with the business for a time to teach the recipes and production techniques for her popular fruit and pudding pies and other baked desserts.

Two Gracie Mae's Kitchen employees also have been hired to remain with the company, Green said. He hopes to expand their hours to fulltime. The move will more than triple the capacity of Gracie Mae's Kitchen, Green said, adding that Chominski was forced to turn down business during the busy Thanksgiving holiday season for lack of capacity in her small rented kitchen in Griswold.

"It's a great product," Green said. "We will get our feet wet over the next few weeks, and by the holiday season, we'll have the space geared up. And by next season, we'll be able to do four times what she did last year."

Green hopes to expand Gracie Mae's Kitchen to New London, Waterford, Salem, Lisbon and Bozrah as well as many area farmers' markets.

Chominski, of Uncasville, said she has been running the bakery business for five years and her personal obligations made it so she couldn't keep up with the growing business. She said Olde Tymes is a "perfect fit" for the old-fashioned, homemade baked goods of Gracie Mae's Kitchen.

The bakery name comes from the middle names of two of Chominski's nieces.

Chominski said she will stay with the business "as long as Rodney needs me," and will help set up a Facebook page and will help train Olde Tymes staff to make the goods.

"It's my baby," she said. "It's something my mother and I built from scratch."

Green said he learned of Gracie Mae's struggles from Norwich Community Development President Robert Mills at a May meeting of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce. Mills suggested Green contact Chominski and try to work out an agreement to save the bakery and move it to Norwich.

"We've been thinking about the bakery business for the past few years, but we never had employees with experiences in it, and never had the time to explore it," Green said.

Mills was pleased the deal worked out and credited Green's enthusiasm for the new venture.

He said NCDC Project Manager Jackie Roy had been working with Chominski to find her space in Norwich to no avail. Chominski was considering closing the business.

"I knew Rodney is a serial entrepreneur always willing to try stuff," Mills said, "and he was all over it."

"I give Rodney all the credit in the world for not letting it lie there. He just jumps on stuff."

c.bessette@theday.com

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