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Five questions with Lazy Lady Baking Co. founder Maren Close

Jonathan Roberts • Aug 21, 2019 at 8:00 PM

Born and raised in Johnson City, Lazy Lady Baking Co. owner Maren Close has experience far beyond Tennessee’s state lines, and hopes to share that with Northeast Tennessee.

After graduating from Science Hill, Close headed east to the University of North Carolina-Asheville, graduating with an arts degree before going to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College for its baking and pastry program.

She began her career in San Francisco, living and working in the city for six years before returning to Johnson City to open her own bakery, which is set to open in 2020. 

Close briefly: 

Favorite thing to bake: “Bread or pie, both are tricky and challenging in their own right which makes them more fun to make.”

Favorite Tri-Cities restaurant: Scratch Pizza

Dogs or cats: Cats

Hobbies: Reading, backyard bocce, being in water, eating good food

Favorite book: “People of Paper” by Salvador Plascencia

When did you realize you wanted to be a baker?

I took a cooking class in high school, that’s kind of where my professional love of baking came from. But my love of food is deeply rooted to my family. We're big eaters and I come from a long line of great cooks. Baking is my way of keeping that line going.

How did you come up with the name “Lazy Lady Baking Co.”?

Lazy Lady is kind of a general lifestyle of mine. I always hear “you can't be lazy if you're a baker,” and I’m not at all! I work so hard at this business, so it's just kind of an ironic name for myself when I do have free time, I’m doing as much nothing as possible.

What’s your favorite thing about doing pop-ups like the small-batch bagel pop-up you do in Jonesborough?

My favorite thing about doing pop-ups outside of farmers markets is bringing something extra special to this community. It’s a long process, all the planning and preparation. In the moment, though, when there's a line out the door and I’m working with some of my favorite people, doing something that I love ... there’s just a very positive energy to the whole thing. Baking is my way of expressing myself, and it’s great that I can share it with people in this way.

How come you decided to set up shop in East Tennessee, rather than somewhere bigger?

I made the decision to move back to the Tri-Cities after my mom told me she had bought a building downtown, she kind of planted the seed. I realized that my dream of owning my own shop could become a reality. Initially that was the driving force of bringing Lazy Lady back to East Tennessee, but since being back I’ve found a strong network of younger people who are trying to create a really diverse food culture in this area. This community has already shown me a lot of support and it feels like we’re creating something really special.

What’s your advice to somebody who wants to get into the food business?

It’s OK to ask questions and to ask for help! Get to know others food businesses in your community and seek out support from them. It’s likely that they were once in the same place and are willing to give advice about things they could have done better or differently.

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