Customers come first at Dunmore Country Mart and Bakery
Dunmore Country Mart and Bakery owners Kevin and Amanda Fraser and Christine Osborne may be new to Pocahontas County, but owning a bakery has been in the family for a long time.
“We’ve always been in this kind of business,” Osborne, the Fraser’s daughter said. “My parents, I could say for the better part of 35 plus years have been working with food.”
The Frasers moved to Maryland in 1993 from Cape Town, South Africa. In 2006, the couple was first introduced to Pocahontas County when they were invited to come here on vacation.
“We came in on 33 through Harrisonburg and as we came over a hill, I saw Germany Valley and I became emotional because it reminded me of home,” Amanda said. “I said to Kevin ‘it feels like I’m home. This is where I want to live.’”
That weekend, the couple rented an apartment and used it as a second home on weekends and holidays. Now, six years later, the second home has become their only home.
After owning two bakeries in South Africa and one in Maryland, the trio knew exactly what they were going to do when they came here.
To keep customers on their toes, Amanda said they are slowly adding items to the menu, one day at a time.
“We started with the basics that the locals are used to,” she said. “I don’t want people a month from now or two months from now, driving past the bakery saying, ‘we know what they have, let’s go.’ I want to keep them inquisitive. That’s why every single day, we add a new item.”
Amanda said feedback from customers is what makes the menu unique. The bakeries hottest item became a part of the menu after several requests.
“We’ve never made sticky buns in our life and then people asked for it,” she said. “We approached Gary [Beverage] and Gary made the first batch, and showed us how. We cannot make enough every day. I think we have done an average of 60 to 80 sticky buns alone per day and they’re gone at the end of the day, sometimes by mid-day.”
Other baked goods include: cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon buns, baklava, fruit turnovers, fruit pies, cream pies, cheesecakes, deep fried cheesecake, cream puffs, pepperoni rolls, yeast rolls and bread.
The bakery also offers lunch specials, Hunt’s Pizza and Wings and fruit bowls.
Amanda said her focus is to make the customers happy with their purchases.
“Customers are always first and that’s why we’re trying to accommodate everybody,” she said. “If you need gluten-free for medical reasons, we’ll do special orders. Our product is very hard to convert, but I will go out of my way.”
The bakery will also offer sugar-free pastries, with sugar substitutes.
On the savory side of things, Kevin has plans to add a South African staple to the menu.
“The other thing I want to bring back here, it’s called boerewors, farmer sausage,” he said. “I make my own sausage, like Italian sausage. When we had our bakery in Maryland, we used to sell 200 to 300 pounds a week.”
The sausage will be offered in beef and pork, or just beef. Kevin also plans to add meat pies and English cuisine staples to the menu.
“We’re going to do meat pies, steak and mushroom, peppered steak, chicken and mushroom, chicken and rice, sausage rolls, cornish pasties and curry pies,” he said. “There’s one that all the English will love, and that’s steak and kidney pie.”
Along with the bakery and lunch specials, The family caters special events including weddings, anniversaries, parties and even proms.
“If you have 10 friends over and you want to have a nice dinner, instead of getting food in, we offer to come and do it in your kitchen, in your house,” Amanda said.
For catering jobs, Amanda and Kevin will sit down with the customer to go over the menu.
“There’s not a set menu because it’s all about the customers and what they want,” Amanda said. “I always offer samples. I will invite you over for dinner or come to your house and, say for instance, you want shrimp and seafood soup, everything that we discuss, I will bring you samples and sit down to a meal so that you, the customer, can taste everything.”
Amanda also makes custom wedding cakes, similar to those seen on TV shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss.
“Very few people realize you can have a four tier cake and each tier can be a different kind of cake with a different filling in between,” she said. “There will be no other cake like yours.”
Amanda offered a unique kind of wedding cake while in South Africa that she hopes to introduce in Pocahontas County.
“We had ‘rent a cake,’” she said. “Just because you don’t have money to pay $300 to $500 for a beautiful cake, doesn’t mean you cannot have it, so what we do is dummy wedding cakes. It’s styrofoam that’s covered with real frosting, with real icing and by the time it’s done, if I put a real cake beside it, you won’t be able to tell me the difference. I cut a small piece out of the styrofoam at the bottom and put in a piece of cake, frost the whole thing and I mark where they need to cut, so the bride and groom cuts the cake and feed each other real cake.”
Amanda then says she takes the dummy cake into the kitchen at the reception hall and cuts a sheet cake to feed the guests. Renting the styrofoam cake costs between $75 to $100.
The Dunmore Country Mart and Bakery is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The bakery will have a grand opening celebration Saturday, September 29, with free samples and wagon rides provided by E.J.’s Cottages.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com