The assertive scent of cinnamon and sweetness drifted down the long, nearly empty corridor at Freighthouse Square. For longtime visitors of Freighthouse, cinnamon is a nostalgic scent for a building that once housed Peggy’s Cinnamon Rolls from 1987 to 2008. But more about Peggy’s in a bit. I followed the yeasty scent to Seasonal Delights Cafe, a from-scratch bakery and cafe. Husband-and-wife team Tonya and Wade “Scott” Reynolds opened the cafe Jan. 15.
The menu is a mix of sandwiches, salad, soup, savory and sweet crepes, espresso and a range of baked goods. It’s a bargain lunch destination with all menu items in the $6-$8 range.
The Reynolds bake quiche, carrot cake and bread pudding – all from scratch. The bagels are bakery fresh, too, but those are made by their sons, who own Bagel Boyz Bakery. Until two weeks ago, Bagel Boyz operated in downtown Puyallup. The Reynolds sons, Wade and Scott, have taken their business wholesale and sell bagels to Forza Coffee, Beyond the Bridge Cafe and elsewhere as they look to open another retail store.
It’s a strange case of role reversal for the Reynolds family – the children opened a restaurant first, then their parents followed a little more than a year later.
It was in the family kitchen in Puyallup that the bagel bakery grew from small talk and distant dreams. In that same Puyallup kitchen, recipes were tested for Seasonal Delights – the cinnamon rolls, specifically.
The rolls are Tonya’s grandmother’s recipe. Her grandmother had cancer of the larynx and lost the ability to speak, which made teaching recipes a real challenge.
“My grandma is the one who taught me to bake,” explained Tonya by phone. “She was never able to talk to me when we’d bake. She had a robotic buzzer to talk to me, but if she talked too fast, it would buzz. Over time, she started writing the recipes down. I’d wake up in the morning and she would have written the procedure out for what she would teach me. I still have the sheets of paper she wrote out for me.”
After her grandmother died in 1991, Tonya found the rolls too painful to make. “Every time I pulled out the recipes, I’d sob.” But during the past few years as her grief became less painful, Reynolds said she started making the rolls again. As her boys grew up and left home, she had extra time on her hands for baking. She now finds the handwritten sheets from her grandmother comforting.
The cinnamon rolls seem perpetually straight out of the oven at Seasonal Delights. On three visits, I lucked out and bought them fresh and warm. A smear of lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting glazed the tops of the rolls, which smelled and tasted assertively of cinnamon. The texture was dense, the flavor yeasty and not too sweet.
The buttery texture of the cinnamon rolls ($3.50) is Reynolds’ signature style of baking. She’s a fan of butter and is the first to admit it. Her quiche crust is made with butter, not shortening. I noticed another theme with all of her baked goods. They are modestly sweet, void of overt sweetness.
Tonya said she’s made the rolls with golden raisins and has adapted the recipe into pecan sticky rolls, but most of the time, her cinnamon rolls are those a purist would appreciate: full of cinnamon, butter, yeasty deliciousness and nothing else. Warning: Tonya does not always keep an ample supply of rolls on hand. If you really want one, be sure to call ahead to see if she has any ready (see contact info below).
So how about those rolls from Peggy’s Cinnamon Rolls? Remember those? They were so coveted that owner Peggy Waldherr applied for a patent for the recipe (the $800 pricetag for the patent was too steep of a cost for her at the time). The business suffered ups and downs through the years.
Waldherr operated Peggy’s as a retail outlet at Freighthouse for 10 years, then closed that and continued to bake the rolls wholesale for the next decade, selling them to local coffee shops and bakeries.
But the economy snuck up on her, and in 2008, she closed the business. “The prices of flour went up so much, we couldn’t compensate for the cost of the ingredients,” she told me by phone. “I miss making them.”
Waldherr, along with her daughter Robin and her husband, Rod Carsner, would like to restart the business but they lack capital. Anyone want to invest? Call the family at 253-535-0687.
Seasonal Delights Cafe & Espresso Co.
Where: 430 E. 25th St., Suite 5, Tacoma
Hours: 5 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Note: They don’t stock large quantities of cinnamon rolls, so call ahead to check for availability.