Nantucket Bake Shop Sold, But Tradition Will Live On

After 45 years running the Nantucket Bake Shop, Magee and Jay Detmer are selling the iconic island business to their former employee and Nantucket native Kerry Reilly.

Reilly plans to continue operating the bakery essentially unchanged, selling its famous Portuguese bread, donuts, muffins and other baked favorites when it reopens toward the end of this month.

From the original location on Orange Street to its current spot on Old South Road, the Detmers have stewarded the Bake Shop since they took it over from founders Anne and David Bradt after coming to the island as college students.

“We have customers that come in today that are the children of customers of ours from 40 years ago,” Magee Detmer said. “It’s history and tradition. It’s what I feel is part of what makes this island so special.”

After the Detmers put the business up for sale several years ago, a friend of Reilly sent her a message about the bakery being on the market. Reilly reached out to Magee and Jay, and the negotiations began. The Detmers already knew that Reilly checked many of the boxes they were looking for in the person they hoped to be passing the torch to.

“Kerry worked with us for three summers so we’re very familiar with her,” Magee Detmer said. “She grew up in the Bake Shop – her grandmother lived down the street from it. It’s been part of her life and it’s always been her dream. And that was our dream, to find someone who shared the love of the island and the love of this business.”

Reilly said yesterday that she has vivid memories of her regular trips to the Bake Shop as a girl growing up on Nantucket. Her grandmother, who lived just down the road from the Bake Shop’s old location on Orange Street, would give her a quarter and let her walk to the bakery to pick out her own treat.

After nearly 20 years living in New Jersey, where Reilly and her husband raised two boys, a return to the island is something she is looking forward to after earning the Detmers’ trust to become the next steward of the Bake Shop and its legacy.

“I wanted to carry on the traditions that they wanted to see and they were really interested in trying to find the right fit, someone who grew on Nantucket, or at least knew the community,” said Reilly, who will be partnering with her neice Brittany Watson in running the bakery. “Everything meshed together and we get along great. We’re looking forward to continuing what they started. We’re thrilled.”

Detmer said she has worked every summer on the island since she was 12 years old, and after more than four decades running the Bake Shop with her husband, it was time.

“To have that longevity for us, it’s really special,” Magee said. “I grew up as a kid standing in line to get Portuguese bread at the Bake Shop and I got to keep the change and I would buy a cupcake. Today we make the exact same cupcakes with the exact same sprinkles. It’s a memory that stuck with me.”

The Detmers intend to stay on in a consulting role as long as Reilly needs it, but are otherwise looking forward to enjoying the island – especially the summer months – without the day-to-day grind of running bakery.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a summer vacation,” Detmer said. “Next summer we plan to explore the beach and why people come here. For me that will be a real epiphany.”

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