BEST friends Judith Thompson and Suzanne Cleary hope to make more than a bit of dough out of their new business.
The pair want to rekindle the love of fresh, home-baked produce that once saw 28 family bakers serving the people of South Shields.
Now there are three, of which The Pantry in Sunderland Road, The Nook, is one.
The friends opened the bakery and sandwich bar after taking over Barry McRae’s, based down the road in Harton Village for 26 years.
Judith, 52, from East Boldon, said: “We bought his business and relocated him and his staff to The Pantry so they could work for us, producing his range of bread. They are the bakers, but this is our twist on things.”
Mr McRae, his wife, Vera, and five staff made the move, along with their equipment.
Judith said: “Barry’s quality and reputation was great. When he first opened, everybody used to buy homemade bread from their local baker. We aim to bring that back.
“We’re in at 4am every morning, making things from scratch.”
The pair plan to open more shops in the future, with The Pantry acting as a base for the bakery.
Judith said: “We have invested about £55,000, but for us it is a long-term commitment. It is the first cog in the wheel.
“We want to have other shops. It is a matter of getting the business model right.”
Judith and Suzanne, 52, who is originally from Jarrow but now lives in South Shields, met at school.
Suzanne’s background is in interior design and she worked for Ikea for 21 years, while Judith worked in human resources for Reyrolle’s in Hebburn for 28 years.
When she took voluntary redundancy seven years ago, she opened a coffee shop, Bon Appetite in Cleadon, which she sold in June.
In the meantime, Suzanne had quit work and moved back to the North East after a stint in Wales, and the pair opened Bijoux Interiors in Cleadon, finally realising their dream of running a business together.
With the success of shows like The Great British Bake Off, they hope their new venture will capture the public’s imagination in an area known for its independent shops.
Suzanne said: “We think the quality of bread we can provide will far outstrip what other people do. It is about quality at affordable prices.”
It took the friends four weeks to re-fit the former tanning shop, and The Pantry opened on August 2.