If you’re not from the Bangor area and are planning a ride here, let me clue you in to a great lunch-and-dessert destination you can use as an excuse for the ride.
Anyone who grew up in the Bangor area, like I did, knows about Frank’s Bake Shop. You know about the sweets and pastries that are so sinfully delicious that you’d think they’d be illegal. You know that the bakery is famous for its cakes, especially of the wedding variety (they did mine in 2005 and I can still taste how good it was today). You know that the shop does other things, like pretty darn good lunches. And you probably know something about the family behind the bakery.
What you might not know about is the history of this wonderful place. On October 17, 1945, Frank’s Bake Shop opened, and three generations of the Soucy family later, it’s still going strong. In 2015, I had the privilege to work with the Soucys and writer Brian Swartz — formerly my editor at the Bangor Daily News for 10 years — to publish a commemorative book celebrating the 70th anniversary of the bakery. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a small-press publisher, and while I usually stick to short-fiction anthologies, I jumped at the chance to publish the book. Brian wrote copy, I scanned roughly seven zillion photographs dating back 90 years, and we worked with the Soucys to produce the book.
All of this has very little to do with motorcycling. What I’m getting at here is WHY I was so eager to do this. It’s the food, I tell you. The bakery’s motto, echoed as the book’s title, has long been “Where GOOD means the BEST.” These folks take the quality of what they do beyond seriously, and once you’ve sampled just about anything there, you’ll understand what I’m saying. And I highly recommend trying their exquisite tarts when they’re in season — especially the raspberry.
But as I said, come for lunch first. Just be sure to save room in your saddlebags for carefully packed pastries to take home. You’re going to want them.
Let me amend that earlier statement. I did the book because of the food, but got to know the Soucy family, and to be honest if the food were only half as good as it is (well, it would still be better than just about anything out there) I’d still have been eager to do the book because getting to know the Soucys just added another layer of privilege to the project.
Heading to Bangor on two wheels? Throttle down on State Street and back that bike into a parking spot. See what’s on the lunch menu that day, and once you’ve been satisfied with that, then you can scamper over to the display cases and start ogling the goodies there. Try not to drool on the glass.
While you’re there, pick up a copy of the book the Soucys have on sale. Even out-of-towners will appreciate the very personal family history behind this community cornerstone.
And don’t forget to tell them that David Fitzpatrick sent you. I’m hoping that the Soucys will keep a running total and reward me with an extra raspberry tart this year. There will be no worry about getting those beautiful tarts safety home in my saddlebags, because we all know those tasty treats will never make it out the door.
HOURS: Frank’s Bake Shop is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
HOW TO GET THERE: If you’re a highway rider, I-95 takes you through Bangor; get off at the Broadway exit and go left off the ramp (no matter which direction you come) and head towards downtown. Take a left at State Street, just past John Bapst Memorial High School, and Frank’s Bake Shop is just up the street on the right, across from Miller Drug. Or plug in 199 State Street, Bangor, ME into your GPS or map program and take the road less traveled. Ride safe, and eat hearty.
THE BOOK: If you make that two-wheeled pilgrimage to Frank’s, you can find it there. You can also find it here on Amazon.