FREDERICKTOWN — Doug Lichtenwalter may be relatively new to the baking business, but after many years of working in other fields, he appears to have found his true calling.
“I never baked a thing in my life up until 2 1/2 years ago,” he said. “I have no formal training.”
But when the economic slowdown began to affect his construction business three years ago, Doug and his wife, Lorie, took the downturn and turned it into a new beginning. He began trying to recreate some of the baked treats he remembered from his boyhood in Erie, Pa., and discovered the homemade delicacies, such as the pepperoni balls he grew up eating, were popular with friends and family.
“Everyone kept asking me when I was going to be making more pepperoni balls,” he said.
Taking the cue from those around him, Lichtenwalter decided to turn the foods he loved to bake into a business. The Lichtenwalters opened the Asetta Bread Co. in Mount Vernon over two years ago.
Asetta now whips up thousands of baked treats each week, many of which are sold wholesale to restaurants, universities, country clubs and schools. The rest are sold to local customers who stop in regularly for the freshly baked breads, gourmet sandwiches, homemade sweets, bakery items, and, of course, pepperoni balls.
Having outgrown their previous space on Main Street in Mount Vernon, the Lichtenwalters converted a 5,000-square-foot building on the campus of the former Fredericktown Primary School to accommodate their growing enterprise.
The new location features the Old School Cafe, a sit-down eatery. In addition to the favorites Asetta has sold for the past two years, new selections have been added to the product line in celebration of the new location.
Whole pies are now offered for sale daily, and the homemade soup of the day is back. New varieties of pocket sandwiches are on the menu, with Asetta bread baked around fresh ingredients, including chicken breast in marinara sauce with Italian cheeses which Lichtenwalter named the Freddie.
Lichtenwalter and his staff of 16 have put in long hours to move everything to the new location in Fredericktown. Lichtenwalter said the time and work invested in the move have been honored by the community with its warm welcome and eager business.
“The community up here has really supported us well and the people of Mount Vernon continue to support us, too,” he said. “[Mount Vernon customers] tell us it’s well worth the couple of minutes it takes to get to the new shop.”
He said he believes the bakery continues to do well due to Asetta’s commitment to excellent service and the high quality of its ingredients.
“We definitely don’t use the cheapest ingredients; we use the best available,” he said. “Everything’s made by hand and we won’t compromise on quality and customer service. It’s got to be right or it doesn’t go out of here.”
Asetta Bread Company is located 128 High St. under the watertower in Fredericktown. It is open from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily, Tuesday through Saturday.