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Lifelong friends open bake/gift shop after years of ‘talking about it’

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published February 2, 2012


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — For Nancy Coon, it’s therapy. For Sharon Grates, it’s an artistic outlet. For both women, Half Baked, their Harrison Township bake shop, gift shop and eatery, is a dream come true.

“We met the just after high school and have been friends ever since,” said Coon, a resident of St. Clair Shores. “We’ve always talked about doing something like this.”

Shortly after her husband passed away in an accident, Coon decided it was time she and Grates followed through with their lifelong plan.

A not-so-perfect building was found on Jefferson. It was a former gun shop at the north end of the township, but Coon and Gates could see its potential. “We knew what we wanted it to become,” Coon said.

So it was completely gutted, rebuilt and transformed into the quaint space it is today, bedecked with local artists’ work, bistro tables, handmade jewelry, Coon’s sewn aprons and chef’s hats, and, of course, Grates’ vibrant, mouth-watering baked goods.

“This place is very therapeutic for me,” said Coon. “The work that went into renovating and the sewing, it’s therapy for me.”

The duo’s combined talents are why Half Baked has been such a success since opening in August 2010.

Coon is an avid and talented sewer, and somewhat of a master at sandwich building; she abides customers with their lunch orders, while Grates, who once worked in the mortgage business, takes care of everybody’s sweet needs.

“I’ve always loved baking,” said Grates, who’s from Grosse Pointe. “I love the creative part of it, creating something from scratch. It’s fun. I don’t want to use a picture as a model of what I’m going to make (for a party). I don’t want to copy someone else’s work. It feels like cheating.”

The two cater parties as well, and Grates is known for taking custom orders, particularly cookies or cakes for special occasions. Some of her more recent creations have included a guitar cake, a haunted house cake complete with ghosts made of white frosting, and an anthill cake teeming with candy ants. Grates’ more popular desserts are her lemon bars and carrot cake squares. “And the Heath bar cheesecake,” she said. “We can’t keep that stocked.”

Half Baked hosts birthday parties inside the shop or outside during the spring, summer and early fall; there is a small gazebo with a covered porch, picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. During the summer months, Coon and Grates tend to a large fruit and vegetable garden, where they grow some of their homemade soup ingredients such as basil, oregano, chives, dill and tomatoes. In addition to the sweets, the soups and Coon’s unique sandwiches, the bakery also has salads and warm and cold beverages, including fresh-made lemonade and iced tea, again, during the summer.

Other events held at Half Baked include tea parties, watercolor classes, jewelry-making and craft days for children.

“We’ve had such a great time here,” said Coon, adding that renovations and improvements to the exterior of the building are forthcoming, and they are considering an addition in the near future.

“Everybody in the area has been so willing to help out, and we’ve made a lot of friends already,” she said. “I think they just really want us to do well.”

Half Baked is located at 39667 Jefferson. For more information, call (586) 783-9667 or find the bakery on Facebook. Half Baked will be closed for an extended period from Feb. 14 through March 6.