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Meet Stroudsmoor’s Executive Baker: Baking Your Sweetest Dreams Come True Since 1992

Stroudsmoor Country Inn has—for four decades—maintained an unmatched reputation for top-tier cuisine, renowned customer service, and delectable sweet treats. Founded by the Pirone family in 1984, the business continues to thrive in their hands with family matriarch, Bernadette Pirone (affectionately known as Mrs. P) running the Main Inn Kitchen to this day. However, in 2005, Stroudsmoor took on a new endeavor, expanding its reach down Bangor Mountain and on to Broad Street to what is now Stroudsmoor Bakery & Café.

While Stroudsmoor has always housed its own bakery, providing its clients with everything from mouthwatering cakes, pies, and cookies; sweet candies like chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, and brittles; and savory sandwiches, soups, and Heat n’ Eat meals, it was just under two decades ago that our bakery, not to mention our bakers, needed room to expand.

At the helm of this endeavor, alongside the Inn’s owners, was Stroudsmoor’s longtime Executive Baker, Jessica Hicks.

Jessica, known to the Inn’s staff simply as “Jess,” began working at Stroudsmoor Country Inn in 1992. But her passion for baking far extends beyond her career here.

At just 13 years old, Jess began working for a baker in her hometown by the name of Bill Grant. While Jess began at the bakery as a dishwasher, she would often watch Bill bake his confections, eager to learn the trade. Bill fostered Jess’s passion for baking, which—after pursuing a formal education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania—led her right here to Stroudsmoor.

After securing a job at the Inn as a baker and cake decorator, Jess continued to hone her passion and talent under the guidance of none other than Mrs. P.

At her side, Jess learned the family business, and, with the longtime culinarian’s encouragement, began to sell baked goods in the Inn’s lobby. This endeavor opened the door to a future retail space while also enabling Jess to assemble desserts for the Inn’s restaurant as well as its event venues.

As stated, 2005 then marked the start of a brand-new culinary journey for Jess as the Pirones purchased what was once Town and Country butcher shop and transformed it into Stroudsburg’s beloved Stroudsmoor Bakery & Café.

Since then, Jess has fostered a dedicated team down at the Bakery who all help her to keep the bakery and café’s shelves, cases, and refrigerators stocked with the most tantalizing treats.

Baker holds tray of pastries

Further, in addition to her efforts to please the tastebuds of her everyday customers, she also leads her team in the creation and production of Stroudsmoor’s most intricate personalized wedding cakes.

This past fall, the longtime baker took on what most people might view as an impossible task when one Stroudsmoor couple came in with a vision of a Viking ship wedding cake. Stepping up to the challenge, Jess more than brought their vision to life, and the end result was absolutely stunning.

Everything from the ship’s sail and helm down to its miniature oars boasted incredibly tiny though significant detail. Photos of Jess’s artwork can be seen below. 

How One Family Business Fostered an Entire Family of Culinarians:

Today, Stroudsmoor’s bakery garners far-reaching attention under the care of our dedicated Executive Baker, whose passion for the trade endures. 

The bakery has so many memories of the different stages of my life,” Jess shared. “Bill, my dear friend, mentor, and father figure is with me in my work each and every day. I continue to look up to him in everything I do; I can’t thank him enough for getting me where I am.”

After beginning her journey at the Inn, Jess not only continued fostering her zeal for the confectionary craft, but she also began a family of her own.

The executive baker added, “Working at Stroudsmoor, I met the love of my life [Tom], I got married, and we had our two beautiful girls, all the while creating a second family with the Pirones and my beloved staff.”

Linda, Stroudsmoor’s Director of Event Operations and one of the family business’s owners, shared how she saw Jess and Tom’s love story at Stroudsmoor unfold after they met at the Bakery & Café.

She recalled, “Tom was one of our original supervisors and measured 6’2 or 6’3,” and was not of a small build. Needless to say, she quipped, no one questioned the 4’10 business owner when Tom was around.

“Nobody bothered me,” she laughed. 

While Jess held, and continues to hold, a dynamic role in Stroudsmoor weddings, so too did Tom. Linda said his presence throughout the wedding execution process was vital. Later, the businesswoman fondly remembered marrying Jess and Tom at our very own Ridgecrest venue, which overlooks the hills and valleys of the surrounding Pocono Mountains. 

Today, Jess’s daughters have adopted their own roles within Stroudsmoor’s legacy, with each representing a beautiful divide of Jess’s talent and passion for culinary creations. Grace, the baker’s eldest daughter, inherited her mother’s knack for crafting delightful, sugary treats such as brownies, cupcakes, and pastries. She also contributes her skills to the bakery’s social media department, showcasing her talents as a photographer. In contrast, her younger daughter, Katherine, helps Jess manage Stroudsmoor Bakery & Café’s deli, constructing delicious sandwiches, soups, and salads to name a few. 

Together, along with a dedicated staff, the Hicks family matriarch continues to satisfy the hungriest bellies and delight customers of all ages. And in doing so, Jess experiences similar joy.

“I love to see customers’ excitement when walking into the store, especially the children,” she said. “We strive to continue to do that and hope to do so as we grow with Stroudsmoor in the coming years.”

So, the next time you stop in at Stroudsmoor Bakery & Café, know that every item on display and within our cases are made not only with the tastiest ingredients, but also with an abundance of care, love, and passion. View a sampling of all that Jess and her staff make on a daily basis by visiting our Bakery’s website here

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