Shawna Sloan knows the key ingredients for making a restaurant a success. Add equal measures of experience, hard work, and a love of baking, and you have the secret recipe for Matty J’s Bakery and Cafe in Saline.
Sloan, who has over twenty years of experience in the food industry, built her baking resume by working at Zingerman’s Bakehouse for ten years. What began as a college job soon became a career. “I attended college at U of M and fell in love with the area and ended up never leaving,” she said.
During that time, she added another title to her resume: mother to son, Jacob, a second grader in Saline Schools. Jacob, whose nickname is Matty J, was one of the reasons why Sloan decided to take a break from the baking business in 2015. “I left Zingerman’s in the Spring of 2015 and decided to take some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do next with my life. Zingerman’s was an absolutely wonderful place to work, but I was feeling a little burned out working with food at that time in my career.”
Taking a break to focus
Sloan took a break from baking to focus and refresh. “I spent my time as a full time parent, which was lovely! I’m grateful that I was able to take the time to do so, as my son entered kindergarten and I was able to volunteer in class and learn how the school system worked. However, I’m not one for sitting idle for too long, and during my hiatus I really, truly missed baking.”
Opening her own bakery and cafe seemed like the perfect solution. “It was the idea of being able to have some degree of control over coming and going when I need to, “ she said. “As a single parent, it is very challenging to be in a job with fixed hours that doesn’t understand that when you have to be home with a sick child, that’s just how it is.”
Opening in Saline
Matty J’s Café and Bakery opened in 2017. The menu features breakfast and lunch items, along with baked goods made fresh daily. Healthy alternatives include vegetarian and vegan options. “Our menu is focused on flavor and quality. I keep it small, on purpose, for a few reasons. One, we are primarily a wholesale bakery. Two, we aren’t set up with a full service kitchen, hence the reason we only offer sandwiches, soup in the fall, and salads in the winter. Three, I love all food but baking is my true passion. We also source locally as much as we can, with the main focus being on high quality ingredients.”
Sloan has been surprised by the positive response and support from the community. “Saline is a wonderful town, and I am so happy that I decided to open my business here.” She admits that being a single mom and café owner has its challenges. “It’s really hard sometimes. I have a good support network of family and friends, but sometimes it takes a fair amount of juggling to make it all work. It has been wonderful and awful and scary and rewarding, all at the same time! Lots of learning, but so far, no regrets.”
Matty J’s Bakery and Café
972 E. Michigan Ave. | Saline
Open Monday through Saturday
from 7am to 4pm