2017-10-01 / Business & Real Estate

Business Beat: Just before Irma, bakery owner had an Epiphany

By D. K. Christi

Ruth Wardein, expert baker and owner of Epiphany Gluten Free Bakery. 
Staff |staff @spotlight.com Ruth Wardein, expert baker and owner of Epiphany Gluten Free Bakery. Staff |staff @spotlight.com Hurricane Irma’s wind and water disasters along the Southwest Florida coastline also brought people together in a time of hardship, according to Ruth Wardein, owner/baker at Epiphany Gluten Free Bakery in Creekside Corners on Immokalee Road.

She opened her bakery not long before Hurricane Irma threatened. “With a skeleton crew, I just started baking everything I had in inventory for a hurricane sale,” said Wardein. As the chicken and shrimp pot pies, pizzas, paleo bread and desserts came out of the oven, her children, ages 12, 9 and 6, moved into action and helped with no special training.

They ran the cash register, bagged food and greeted customers to tell them everything was 25 percent discounted and included free gifts. “My son was a better salesman than me as he greeted customers,” said Wardein. They even dropped her business card in the bags without being prompted.

Wardein’s baking talent grew from childhood, when she discovered with wonder the fact that one ingredient can change an entire recipe. From a large Italian family and a mother and grandmother who baked, she baked as a hobby though busy with her career in ballet. That practice led to a storefront bakery and café with something for everyone.

“Customers bring me a list of their allergies and dietary restrictions and ask me to create something special,” said Wardein. “One little boy brought me flowers for making his birthday special,” she said.

“Vegan? We have it,” added Wardein. “Dairy free? We have that also. Nut free? Our bakers are food-sensitivity specialists who use great care in preventing cross contamination of foods prepared for special allergy needs,” said Wardein.

Wardein had a large following from selling her products at farmers markets for five years and working out of an industrial kitchen before she opened the bakery and 30-seat cafe.

She wouldn’t let the hurricane have her ingredients. At the last minute Friday as she wrapped her electronics in garbage bags and put them in the empty refrigerators, customers got the last of the fresh paleo bread.

Tuesday, Sept. 12, Wardein opened with coffee and pizzas at 11 a.m., after she spent the hurricane hours with 15 family members behind shuttered windows in a relative’s home.

Epiphany is many things: a unique bakery and specialty cake emporium, a café, a service offering items hot from the oven, a grocery with a to-go freezer and take and bake offerings, a source for grab-and-go sandwiches and salads and a great cup of coffee.

Wardein plans more for the future at 1514 Immokalee Road, Suite 117, Naples, Fla. 34110. For more information, call 239-398-4428 or go to www.epiphanyglutenfree.com

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