When people list off the top bakers in Baxter County, both Rick and Jane Mines are usually at the top of that list.
For over 20 years, the former owners of Nima’s Pizza have been in the kitchen cooking up everything from the world class pizza pies to their famous cream puffs and key lime pies.
And their success at baking speaks for itself. Before the happy couple sold their world famous pizzeria last July, the couple had racked up award after international award in the International Pizza Competition, attracting people from all over the country to try a slice of their pizza.
And then like that, after all those years of business in Gassville, they were seemingly gone. Nima’s was suddenly under new management, and while the new owners have done an amazing job at filling the Mines’s shoes, many customers have wondered what happened to the popular pizza baking couple.
Well, the answer is simple, they moved on to their new business, right across the parking lot from their old pizzeria.
And business at My Bakery Shoppe is booming.
“We wanted to slow down,” said Rick Mines, co-owner of My Bakery Shoppe. “We had the bakery for about five years. We wanted to go from seven days a week to four days a week. Just to slow down. We bought this five years ago, just because [Jane] ran out of space.”
The Mines’s journey to Gassville, and towards marriage, began when Rick moved to Las Vegas for a job that required him to fix race cars. After he took up his new job, Rick decided that it was time to settle and hired a realtor to help him find a home.
Luckily for Rick, that realtor was Jane herself. The two quickly fell in love and married. Their first stop as a newly wedded couple was Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview for their honeymoon.
They would fall in love with the area as quickly as the fell for each other. Over the next couple of decades, the couple would travel back and forth from Las Vegas to Baxter County for fishing, before Rick decided to hang up his hat as an RV salesman and retire in Gassville.
As they describe it, the Mines’s were only retired for about 20 minutes before they purchased Nima’s Pizza in 2003 from New York brothers Nicholas and Mauro.
“I came in one day and talked to Mauro and said, hey, I’m retired. And he said, why don’t you buy this place,” Rick said. “I said, I’ve been retired for 20 minutes, leave me alone. So, I go home and tell Jane, and she says, why don’t you look at it? She was almost as bad as he was. So, long story short, we bought the two stores.”
With no culinary background between the two of them, Rick and Jane had their work cut out for them. Thankfully, the two would quickly figure out how to operate their ovens and bake the perfect pizza.
By 2010, the couple’s new pizzeria had caught the attention of the International Pizza Competition, who invited them to return to Las Vegas for their annual competition.
They walked away with the title of “USA Best Traditional Pizza,” and came in a close second to winning the world title, only losing by four points to an Italian chef. They would go on to win various new titles over the next 10 years.
During that time, they would expand their store front to include the bakery that My Bakery Shoppe now sits in.
“Jane brought design into the competition,” Rick said. “She did a lattice work that looked like a cherry pie, and the head chef for the school asked her permission and he showed her. That changed the whole competition to actually putting some care into what it looked like. She was the first person to do that.”
While Jane and Rick loved competing on an international stage, the competitions, and the pizzeria, began to take their toll, prompting the couple the sell the pizzeria so that they could focus on Jane’s desire to slow down and devote herself fully to the bakery she had purchased five years ago.
My Bakery Shoppe was officially born.
“I miss my pizza competitions tremendously,” Jane said. “There’s a part of me that would love to go back and compete again. But, with the baking, I’m content to give our customers the best of my ability in here. The competition days are over with.”
With My Bakery Shoppe up and running full time, Jane has focused on bringing a little Key West flavor to the Twin Lakes area.
My Bakery Shoppe features a full line up of Key West styled pastries, scones, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, muffins, lemon bars, whole cakes, individual slices of cake, brownies, pies and much more.
Each pastry is made with real butter, fresh ingredients, and Jane’s homemade reduction, sealing that perfect sweet flavor into every bite. The bakery shop also overnight’s fresh New York bagels from the Big Apple itself. The bagels are served alongside freshly made butter that’s made in house.
Special orders are available upon request.
“I use no imitation flavoring,” Jane said. “Everything I use is pure oils for intense flavor. I don’t do imitation vanilla, I use vanilla bean in everything that calls for vanilla, even my whipped cream. So, you always see the little specks of vanilla bean in everything.”
And while Jane’s pastries are to die for, they almost pale in comparison to her ability to command a kitchen while she bakes.
Under her watch, everything in the kitchen has been broken down to a perfect science, allowing Rick, Jane and their young apprentice Nadia Talbot to work in a steady flow. The day starts with preparation, with each ingredient being put together before entering the oven for the first time at 300 degrees.
As the day goes on, the oven’s temperature is slowly increased to accommodate the cooking temperatures for different recipes before maxing out at 400 degrees, allowing the skillful bakers to avoid the worry of cooling down their ovens.
And through all of the coordinated chaos, young Nadia steps away to interact and greet each customer, bringing pride to the Rick and Jane, who have watched the young woman come into her own.
“She adds a touch of her personality and sincerity to every customer she waits on,” Jane said. “It’s been a pleasure watching her with our customers, making them feel right at home. We’re proud of her. We are really so proud of her.”
My Bakery Shoppe is located at 101 E. Main St. in Gassville. The store is open from Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please call (870) 435-2253.