MUSKEGON, MI – On a recent Monday, Davine Calkins stood at a long metallic table, measuring out sugar and molasses, as she prepared a batch of cookies.
Calkins is the force behind the 490 Bakery, one of the local food businesses harbored at Kitchen 242, the incubator commercial kitchen at the Muskegon Farmer’s Market.
And the Muskegon community is the inspiration behind Calkins, a lifelong resident, and the bakery that she has long dreamed of opening.
“I love baking,” she said. “I love how it makes people feel. And I’ve always had a strong passion for community. And with my bakery, I always wanted it to be something that brought our community together.”
Calkins began her business in July of 2018 with the idea that cookies can bring a community together.
“Everybody likes a cookie,” she said. “It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to like chocolate. You don’t have to like oatmeal. But everybody can agree they like a cookie, even if it’s Oreo. So if we all can agree we like a cookie, we don’t necessarily have to agree all the time, but let’s work together to be a better community.”
Each cookie at 490 Bakery is named for a Muskegon neighborhood or feature. There’s the Nelson, a classic chocolate chip, and the Lakeside, a salted caramel cookie the color of beach sand. The Jackson Hill Market has Michigan cherries, and the limited edition Scenic Drive has peanut butter and candy corn, reminiscent of that road’s changing leaves.
Another aspect to the business is hidden in its name. The “490” derives from a Bible verse in which Jesus instructed his followers to forgive one another “seventy times seven” times, Calkins said.
That principle, and the idea that everyone deserves another chance, is, well, baked into the business.
Instead of a half-dozen or a dozen, Calkins sells bags of seven or thirteen cookies – that’s one extra, representing “that one more chance, one more opportunity – just give a person one more.”
And eventually, she aspires to hire employees who are returning from incarceration or recovering from addiction. Calkins calls this her BHAG: a “big, hairy, audacious goal,” she said with a laugh.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted Calkins’ plans to hire employees, which she expected would begin in January. Now, she is simply trying to “maintain and grow,” and to get her product into more stores.
“We took a couple steps backward, but we’re getting there,” she said, to the goal of being a place of transitional employment for people in need of another chance.
On top of her day job, Calkins estimates that she puts another 45 hours a week into building the bakery, alongside her husband, Brian. Eventually, she said, she aspires to expand into other types of baked goods, and to open her own brick-and-mortar café to showcase them all.
It would serve, she said, as another opportunity to offer transitional employment, and as a gathering place for an entire community.
The 490 Bakery cookies are available for sale online, at the Muskegon Farmers Market, Boomtown Market, the Grand Haven Health Hutt, and elsewhere.
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Source: Thanks https://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/2020/10/local-eats-the-490-bakery-names-its-cookies-after-muskegon-neighborhoods.html