The smell of homemade baked goods has been wafting through Rohnert Park’s M section in recent days since Bianchi’s Bake Shop opened its doors for business.
“We sound like mad scientists back here,” Mary Bianchi calls out from the kitchen area, where the staff is in the process of creating a new dish. But don’t count on the same item to be there from day to day, Bianchi warns us, as there is no set menu.
The assortment of goodies will likely change daily based entirely on the whim of the bake shop staff, including her daughter Amber, who works locally as a teacher; son Joe, who also put in the hardwood floors; and chief baker, Leslie Courchaine.
Bianchi's occupies the same space as the former Famous Chili Dog store, across from the Fire Station on Maurice. It has been shuttered now for years.
One look inside and it is obvious that a year of planning went into transforming the space into a friendly, welcoming spot, complete with paintings of Sonoma County scenes, and a hand-painted mural of a vineyard (painted by local artist Susie Cummings). Waist-high tables and chairs atop dark hardwood flooring make it a relaxing spot for snacking and sipping coffee or Italian Sodas with a friend.
The baked goods are housed inside a chilled glass case and include an assortment of muffins, cupcakes, brownies, cookies and homemade focaccia bread. Peanut Butter Cupcakes (complete with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup inside) were available, and a tray of Root Beer Float cupcakes were about to come out of the oven. A “Sweet of the Week” will be a regular feature, with Banana Bread Muffins being one such item last week.
Mary Bianchi said that the inspiration for the baking comes from memories of being in her own grandmother’s kitchens, where she picked up the art of baking with “a handful of this, and a pinch of that.”
“I want it to be my stuff – I don’t want fancy stuff,” she said. “I want you to come in the front door and says it smells like grandma’s kitchen.
Bianchi, 52, said that she was raised in Rohnert Park, growing up in B section as second of eight children in the Dettling family. She has been married to her husband, Aldo, for 32 years, and the couple had four children within five years, all of whom attended as did she.
When her kids were in still in school, Bianchi said she was a stay-at-home mom who also worked as a manicurist out of the family’s home. That work lead her to four surgeries on her hands and arms last year, and the decision to do something different.
“I’ve always been a baker, even before the kids were born,” she said. “I also baked cookies for school and sporting events. The favorite of all the kids was my sugar cookie.”
“Now that the kids have all grown up and moved out of the house, I have no one to mother – just my dogs,” Bianchi said with a laugh.
She added that she is hoping to bring a “taste of home” to students from Sonoma State University, who might miss the smell of homemade goods from their own kitchens, or students from The Ranch, who will remind of her of her own time at the school, and her kids going through in recent years. And, of course, there is the proximity of the neighborhoods in nearby M Section.
She said that hosting local events at Bianchi's will also be a part of the business. They are hosting for an author's reading by retired Rohnert Park schoolteacher Karen Bane, who recently published her first children’s book, Raising Tippy. That event will take place on Thursday, June 28, from 1-6 p.m.
“I want this to be fun – I want to look forward to coming to work each day,” Bianchi said of her new bake shop.
A Grand Opening is planned for Saturday, June 30, and will feature free samples all day long, Italian sodas, and cupcake decorating for children. is located at 1301 Maurice Avenue, Rohnert Park; phone (707) 794-1524.