Find scrumptious baked goods and Southern specialties, including pie shakes, beignets, and savory sandwiches, at Granny’s Baking Table in downtown Springfield.
What do you get when you cross two foodies and the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival? Apparently, one of the best bakeries in town! Pie shakes, chocolate croissants, fried chicken, pulled pork, fresh pies, scones, beignets… and even the sweet tea is special, with a hibiscus base. Granny’s Baking Table gives you that New Orleans cooking vibe, but right in downtown Springfield.
It all started in 2019, when co-owners Sonya Yelder and Todd Crosset met—Crosset was the “food wrangler” for the Jazz & Roots Festival and recruited Yelder, as chef and owner of Souper Sweet Sandwich Shop, to join the list of local vendors appearing at the festival.
As Crosset puts it, the two have a “complementary repertoire.”
“Sonya was making biscuits and pies,” says Crosset. “I was making beignets and croissants. It just seemed like that would be good to pair up. And she had already found this place (at 309 Bridge Street). So, we teamed up.”
That home-cooking goodness is hard to come by in today’s world of fast food and boxed basics. But Granny’s is different—you won’t find any pre-made or packaged ingredients in Yelder and Crosset’s kitchen.
“We make everything from scratch,” says Yelder. “We’re not opening a box and putting something out. We come in, we bake. I don’t buy my crust, I make my crust. Todd pounds out the butter for his danishes and croissants. And making the biscuits from scratch, I had to find the flour to be able to make the specific biscuits I wanted. It’s time and care that we put into our product.”
Nothing says time and care like a plate from Granny’s. As a vegetarian, I’m partial to the “What in Tarnation” crispy blackeye pea and pinto cake sandwich on a cornmeal biscuit. It comes with candied jalapeños and tomato jam mayo. And the “Mess of Greens” is a delight for vegetarians, as well. It’s not your typical salad, but instead comes with mixed greens, roasted corn, bean salad, smoked deviled eggs, and these adorable little biscuit croutons. It’s a southern girl’s delight! Pair that with a peach pie shake and a cheese danish for dessert, and you’ve got yourself a good porch lunch right there.
Yelder and Crosset are both in the business for the love of Springfield, it is clear. Yelder was born and bred in Springfield, but got her Southern flair from the many summers she spent in Georgia at her grandmother’s. Crosset, on the other hand, has been in Springfield for the past 25 years, having grown up in Ohio and spent time in Boston and Amherst beforehand.
“I’m a city kid,” says Crosset. “You start living in the country, and it doesn’t feel right. I wanna know what my neighbors are cooking.”
Yelder, on the other hand, wanted to do something for the town she grew up in, she says: “I remember when downtown was booming. It was the place to be. But malls killed downtown shopping, and now Jeff Bezos is killing malls [with Amazon]. You don’t have to leave your house anymore. But we want to change that. Todd and I are like-minded in wanting to get people to be more social at Granny’s.”
You won’t find Wi-Fi or tables for one or two at Granny’s. Instead, you’ll find one large communal table and a couple sofas by the entrance, all in the hope that different parties of guests will stretch outside their comfort zones and say hello, maybe strike up a conversation. The bakery also started a music in the park series, hosting classical musicians in Stearns Square Park, adjacent the bakery, on Saturday mornings.
“We want to create small pockets of comfort for people, with the environment, food, and everything,” Yelder says. “And Springfield is a hub—we should be building. People should be traveling through Springfield to get to opposite points, stopping here for good food and entertainment.”
Sonya and Todd’s Local Recommendations
Springfield, too, is a destination. Sonya and Todd recommend exploring Springfield for all the diversity in community and offerings our city has to offer. Some of their favorite local gems include:
- Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival holds a special spot in Granny’s Baking Table history as the serendipitous reason for the co-owners’ meeting. Each year, it brings together 10,000 jazz lovers and a line-up of artists from all around.
- Mattoon Street Arts Festival is one of the oldest festivals in the city, featuring more than 100 exhibitors, food vendors, and musicians. The 48th annual festival will take place on September 11-12, 2021.
- Springfield Museums is your “one-stop, five-museums” hotspot for history, art, and fun. As Springfield is the birthplace of children’s author and illustrator Dr. Seuss, the museum complex features the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Best of all… museum admissions are free for Springfield residents!
- Forest Park is one of the hidden gems of Western Massachusetts. At 735 acres, the Victorian park was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. If the lily ponds, winding trails, rose garden, and historic Barney carriage house aren’t your style, you can always head to the swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball fields, or zoo for leisure.
- The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fall is home to more than three hundred inductees and 40,000 square feet of basketball history. And what better place for the basketball hall of fame than the birthplace of basketball? Springfield.
- Puerto Rican Restaurant & Bakery is full of spice. Todd recommends getting rice with pigeon peas (arroz con gandules) with pork, and the chicken noodle soup, especially if you’re feeling sick and need a pick-me-up. It’s in the back, so just ask for la sopa.
- Frigo’s and a handful of other old, family-owned Italian restaurants in the North End are top of mind for pasta, pizza, and hot oven grinders. Todd loves the store at Frigo’s. “Get your prosciutto there, peruse their great wine selection, and try their prepared foods,” he suggests. I hear the lobster mac and cheese is delicious.
- Phở Sàigòn, Soc Trang, Vinh Chau, and the many other Vietnamese offerings in The X neighborhood are a must-try. Try them all and see which you prefer!
“You’ve got to taste the diversity,” Crosset says. “People are making food for their people. It’s not watered down for upper-middle class white folks. My best advice to newcomers to Springfield? Explore your neighborhood, because there are great spots everywhere.”