Chocolate may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a bakery, but when the folks at Nettie’s Country Bakery in Center Moriches are fixing up a special chocolate cake, as they were on a recent day, it’s an intoxicating aroma you can’t ignore. A second trip inside may be necessary.
Nettie’s, named after owner Jeanette “Nettie” McHeffey, who runs it with her husband, Joseph, is an old-time bakery with a 21st-century appeal.
Not only can you stop and get fresh bread, cookies, doughnuts, pies, scones, cakes and more, but it has seating both inside and outside seating for when it’s open from Fridays to Saturdays.
And now the bakery has upped its online game with a new website that takes online orders.
In addition patio and picnic tables, rocking chairs and other furniture, guests can bring blankets to relax on the lawn.
“We have always accepted orders by phone, email or Facebook, but the new website lets people browse our products, with photos, and place their order in advance, said Brendan McHeffey, 37, of Center Moriches, Nettie’s marketing and sales manager and the McHeffeys’ son. “It’s the closest thing to standing in the bakery and picking out your items.”
“Even for those people that don’t order online, the new website showcases our full menu, which is far more extensive than people might imagine. We find that we are getting more inquiries about our business from people that don’t already know us.”
The McHeffeys are no strangers to baking.
Joseph McHeffey, his son said, began baking while working at the former Pierre’s bakery in Center Moriches. It was a place where a community would gather to purchase their bread and rolls for the weekend, Brendan recalled his father telling him.
As a couple, the McHeffeys owned a string of “Hometown” bakeries, with locations in Center Moriches, Eastport, Mastic, East Quogue and Riverhead, during their first few years of marriage. They ended up selling them once they had kids, Brendan McHeffey said.
Joseph focused on his law practice while Jeanette was a teacher with children with autism.
At one time, Joseph McHeffey turned the woodshed in their backyard into a kitchen. The whole family would go back there around Christmas time to bake cookies for their neighbors, friends and family.
When the family opened Nettie’s Country Bakery in 2014, it focused on those hometown roots, he said.
Today, customers are keen on the fact that Nettie’s is owned and operated by a close-knit family who takes pride in serving their community.
He added that the goal of the update was to let the customer see all they offer before coming into the store – and there’s a lot.
Nettie’s Country Bakery is known as a community favorite; a place where family and friends come to meet over fresh pastries and coffee. With a variety of seating areas in their countryside setting, many who visit are tempted to stay and enjoy their snack on the veranda.
A section in the far corner, which is the shell of an old barn, doubles as a staging area. The space allows for musical entertainment during the occasional apple and pie festival. There are also sunny and shady sections surrounding the shell, where customers can relax and congregate with fellow community members.
“It was kind of a time when you would go to the bakery and there’s a line out the door and you would see all your neighbors and friends and it was kind of a gathering place,” Brendan said. “Providing that space and that experience for people is what’s important to us.”
Taking advantage of the peaceful scenery Nettie’s offers was Mary Lou Gleason from East Moriches.
“This is our first time here and we’re loving it,” she said, while dining on a cruller and a cup of tea with her friend, Mary Brennan from Quogue.
“I got a raisin scone with butter and the most delicious jam,” said Brennan, who gave the lavender flavor “five stars.”
Brendan’s favorite pastry changes weekly, but right now he’s a big fan of Nettie’s Craft Brownie Bites, which they recently began selling wholesale to fifteen stores locally and online. They come in an assortment of flavors like espresso, peanut butter, sea salt and classic chocolate – but the tastiness doesn’t stop there.
“Boozy Bites” is their newest venture; it consists of brownies and beer, together in one tiny square. Nettie’s partnered up with Westhampton Beach Brewing Co. to create the “Chocolate Stout” – a brownie bite baked with the brewery’s Irish Eyes Cream Stout. They also offer a Bourbon version and an alternative cream stout flavor.
But Nettie’s has more to offer than just baked items. Fans of Tend Coffee, the environmentally friendly organic coffee house and distributor in Shirley, can now enjoy their favorite cup of joe while visiting the Center Moriches bakery.
Also available are some locally made olive oils, homemade soups that change weekly and their own line of homemade jams and jellies.
Those who like to do the baking themselves can pick up chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookie mix to take home. Each mix comes with the required ingredients separated out as needed and includes directions on how to bake it Nettie’s way.
Nettie’s is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving the weekdays strictly for prepping. Everything is baked on premises using local and fresh products wherever they can, and nothing see’s the oven until the weekend, Brendan McHeffe said. Online orders require a three-day lead time, so, for instance, orders placed on Tuesday will be ready for pick up on Friday.
“We are seeing more large orders that seem to be for parties or get-togethers that people are having,” Brendan said. “People tend to know that we fill the showcase each day with the goal of selling out, so if they are planning a large purchase, it’s possible that something won’t be there.”
Nettie’s Country Bakery
366 Railroad Ave.
Friday: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.