Shelley Brophy identifies her restaurant as an "independent alternative"
for residents and tourists. It is one of the parts of the Nacogdoches whole.
"Shelley's Bakery Cafe gives customers an enjoyable and casual dining
choice, improves the value of downtown and promotes all of the community,"
said Jessica Henderson, Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors.
"Because of the contributions and positive impact the business makes, the
Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce board named Shelley's Bakery Cafe as
Small Business of the Year."
Brophy said the success comes from testing and adapting along the way and
doing homework before the business opened in June 2006, with input from
community leaders, friends and family.
"Just look around," Brophy said, referencing the cafe's decor. "My mother
Peggy Fare has the artistic talents that created the charm of the
restaurant. It's gorgeous, it's timely and it's classic because of her.
Plus, she's a great taste tester."
The restaurant has always offered a versatile choice for a casual meal or a
special celebration. Maximizing the time the business is open and changing
the menu and services based on what customers want have been the key to
growth. Brophy said at the beginning, the bakery included fresh-baked bread
ready for pick up. "It didn't sell well and produced waste, so I stopped
that," she said. "But I found that customers needed catering services,
which grew more than I expected."
Another successful side of her cafe developed after her restaurant
Farechild's on North St. closed. Brophy noticed a number of her cafe diners
requested Farechild's menu items. Those special requests led to the monthly
themed dinners. The dinners have been going strong for about five years and
are popular for attendees and fun for her and her staff.
Striking a deal for the downtown location with property owner Diana Walker
was important to Brophy, because she understood from her past experience in
food service that "the amount of money it takes to outfit a restaurant is
different than setting up other ventures. I wanted my business on North
Church St., and Diana agreed to sell the building only if I opened a
Brophy implemented her plans using the advice she had gathered from many in
town including representatives at the Chamber of Commerce, the City and
Nacogdoches Economic Development.
"Shelley first came to me at Nacogdoches E.D.C. asking about where she
might turn to start her own business," said Judy McDonald, who served as
president/CEO. "She and Bill were special people to Archie and me, and I
really wanted to be very careful with any advice that might get her into
"I asked what her passion was, and she immediately said 'I love to cook,
make up new recipes and try new foods.' My advice was do what your heart
says to do."
McDonald then put Brophy in touch with Brian McClain at the Angelina Small
Business Development Center and "the rest is history," McDonald said. "But
it is the history she made that has influenced the growth of our downtown
and so our city. Her gift for food preparation is only a small part of the
contribution she makes to making our part of the world better."
Before there was the thought of opening Shelley's Bakery Cafe, Brophy
earned a masters degree and worked in the field of grief counseling that
included hospice and Alzheimer's patients and their families. Close friend
Nancy Speck Mangham also worked in the same area and became an encourager
for the new business. "Because I interrupted what I was doing and opened up
a restaurant, doesn't mean I stopped having the interest. It never went
away," Brophy said. " I am still involved in that area, and Nancy and I
share that, and she loves the restaurant."
Brophy recalled local bankers supporting the business opening in practical
and endearing ways.
While seeking the right financial partner, Brophy remembered a phone call
that brought what she needed to get the venture through the starting gate.
"I answered the phone and heard the voice, 'Shelley, this is Francis
Spruiell at Austin Bank. Girl, we need to talk. Tell me what your plans
are.' Francis wanted to work with me," Brophy said.
Banker Ron Collins played a big part in settling on a business name.
Two names were in mind, and Brophy conducted her own public survey to
settle the debate. When she asked Collins his opinion, he gave an answer
that was in favor of neither. "You can name it whatever you like," Collins
said. "I'm calling it 'Shelley's' and I'll be there."
Brophy acknowledged that for her, there is no separation between running
her business and serving the community - and when the city prospers, so
does her business.
She is currently serving a fourth term as City Council Member for the
Northeast Ward. Relationships have grown from holding the position as well
as a love for the service to the citizens. With a business that is open to
the public, customers who happen to be residents know that they might catch
her for quick discussions over lunch, while picking up pastries or just
"It has been a wonderful avenue to work with others toward a common goal,
promoting and preserving our city, finding new ways to attract families,
businesses, new ways to take care of our citizens," Brophy said. "We have
updated parks and trails, good schools and a place with culture, because
our citizens voice what they want, and they're participatory in making
those wants a reality. Being part of that is a wonderful experience."
Brophy predicts that the recent growth of local healthcare services will be
good for business, and important in the livability of the city.
For tourists, Brophy and her staff take every opportunity to make their
visits to the restaurant and the town the best they can be by promoting the
unique sites and attractions.
McDonald said, "Her gift to us is her big smile, welcoming hugs, listening
ear and determination. Shelley is always thinking how she can help improve
the lives of our citizens. She is a great restaurateur, servant of our
people and dear friend."
*The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce 94th Annual Meeting and
Membership Banquet* begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the SFA Grand
Ballroom. The 2015-2016 board of directors will be inducted and award
recipients will be recognized.
The 2015 Citizen of the Year and the Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards
*Grace Handler*, Citizen of the Year -
*award sponsored by Tipton Ford, Inc. *
*Shelley's Bakery Cafe*, Small Business of the Year - *award sponsored by
Heritage Land Bank*.
*Mast Motorsports*, Medium Business of the Year *- award sponsored by
*Clear Springs Restaurant and Auntie Pasta's*, Large Business of the Year
-* award sponsored by R&K Distributors, Inc.*
Bronze sponsorships are available for $750 and include corporate
recognition and seating for eight or nine. Individual admission tickets are
available for $40. Contact the Chamber at 936-560-5533 for reservations.
Seating is limited, and the reservation deadline is Sept. 16.