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Next week, Kathleen Hanna cuts the ribbon on Good Eats Diva, a retail bakery in Haslett. The business started as an accelerator in the Allen Market Place.
When it opens in Haslett next Thursday, Good Eats Diva will officially be both the newest and one of the oldest craft bakeries in Metro Lansing. Owner/operator Kathleen Cannata Hanna actually started a beta version of the business in 1990 shortly after she arrived in mid-Michigan.
“I’m a degreed architect, but when I moved here I was seven months pregnant, and no one was going to hire me in (that) male-dominated world,” Hanna said. “So I started baking. It gave me an outlet for my creativity, and I’m Italian on both sides, so I had lots of recipes ready to go.”
Word got around, and her home kitchen was soon outsourced by local cafés such as Espresso Royale, Cappuccino Café and Beaner’s Coffee (before it was rebranded as Biggby’s) to sell at their counters. Another client, Schuler Books, also started trucking Hanna’s goods to its Grand Rapids location, while Espresso Royale transported them to Ann Arbor, giving her exposure across the Mitten.
“I did anything they wanted — dessert bars, muffins, biscotti,” Hanna said. “It allowed me to stay home and raise my kids but also be active in the business world. I took it as far as I could, and then I started writing.”
In 2002, Hanna self-published “Got2Go:
Feeding Families Fast,” which sold over 5,000 copies. She drew the attention of a national publisher, who tweaked the title and some of the content and re-released it as “The Good-to-Go Cookbook” in September 2008 … just in time for the Great Recession.
“When that happened, no one was looking to buy books,” Hanna said. “And the publishing world has a very short shelf life. There was no way to resurrect what was lost. It was just bad luck, and it deflated me for a while.”
Hanna got into real estate for a few years, but then she started hearing from her old customers who told her how much they missed her baking. She started cooking again, but by then the Michigan Cottage Food Law had taken effect, putting tighter restrictions on how a home-baking wholesaler can operate. That’s when she went commercial. First was a stint at the Incu-Bake incubator kitchen in Holt; she then started working in local churches before she made a connection with the Allen Market Place’s accelerator kitchen last year.
“(Director) Joan (Nelson) was fabulous to work with, and that was a great experience,” Hanna said. “But it was only 187 square feet. I did that for a year, but I was just bumping into myself.”
She eventually found her permanent home in Haslett’s Shop Town Plaza, at the corner of Haslett and Marsh Roads. The 1,200-square-foot space will feature 16 seats, and the menu will include gourmet Lavazza coffee to complement the grand return of her now-famous biscotti. Hanna said all ingredients are sourced locally and organically as often as she can, and food coloring, artificial flavorings and “boxed ready mix stuff” are strictly verboten.
Good Eats Diva will have a ribbon cutting next Thursday, Nov. 9 at 10:30 a.m. Hanna is keeping abbreviated hours to start with, but plans to eventually be open full-time. She also intends to use her space to host cooking classes this winter, and future plans include boxed lunch offerings by next summer. But Hanna knows better than to do too much planning.
“I can put grandiose ideas out there, but it would be a waste of time and effort if no one comes," she said. "It’s a matter of making sure I can give people what they want.”
Good Eats Diva 1561 Haslett Road Suite 1B, Haslett (in Shop Town Plaza) Grand opening hours: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9; 8 a.m.-noon Friday, Nov. 10 Regular hours begin Tuesday, Nov. 14: 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday & Friday; noon-6 p.m. Wednesday; 8 a.m.-noon Friday; 9 a.m.-noon Saturday; closed Sunday- Monday (517) 816-7980, goodeatsdiva.com