Shane Landry has an egg beater tattooed on his arm.
“I learned everything about baking from my grandmother,” says the owner of Connie’s Bakery “I lived with her a lot when I was young, and I absorbed her passion for food. When she died I inherited her egg beater. It’s on display in the store now. And I got the tattoo as an homage to her.”
After graduating from Johnson & Wales’ Denver campus, Landry moved back home to Rhode Island. “I gave myself a summer to figure things out,” he remembers. He’d been coming to Provincetown since he was 18, and so he Googled “Provincetown” and “bakery” and Connie’s came up. He posted his need for an apartment on Craigslist.
Both the job and the apartment came through.
Connie’s Bakery started in 1979 as a bread counter at the Lobster Pot, and had evolved into a full-service bakery—and more—by the time Landry came to work there in 2008. He left for a year and a half as New York City beckoned, then returned and worked another three years at Connie’s Race Point Road location. “She was sick the last year and didn’t work at all,” he says, “so I spent a few months doing all the baking, just getting it done. I planned to work for them forever. I didn’t want it to die. I loved her recipes, I loved how people were excited when they came in.”
So Landry bought the bakery. “It’s evolved,” he admits. “We used to make tons and tons of bread, but these days we don’t go through that much. It used to be a place to sit down. Connie liked making meals, especially Mexican food. It’s different now that we’re downtown. It’s more fast-paced; people come in and out more quickly.”
Landry designed the layout, ensuring that customers can find what they want easily, with all the pastries on display. “I kept a lot of Connie’s recipes but added my twist on some of them,” he says. “It was about making it my own. Connie’s chocolate cake was the recipe I changed most. Mine’s less sweet and more chocolaty.” And he really likes chocolate. “I spent a winter making brownies, experimenting with ingredients like tofu and black beans,” Landry says. “I baked so many I got really sick of them. But it was worth it. Our brownies are perfect.”
Some items he ended up making by default. “We used to buy apple fritters from Fleming’s,” he says. “When they stopped I was okay making my own doughnuts, but I’d never made an apple fritter, so I learned. And now people can’t get enough of them! We only make them on weekends, and they fly off the shelves. Someone even called me one time about holding one for him!”
Landry does his own baking, which makes for a topsy-turvy schedule. “In the summertime I get there at one am,” he says. “I walk by Spiritus and everyone’s out there finishing up their night, and I’m there going to work. It can be tough! Some days you want to just hang out.” He pauses. “But then when I’m there alone at four am, braiding challah bread with the music blasting and the smells starting up all around me, I realize how much fun this all is. I wish everybody could see that happening, the work and the fun and all.”
During Landry’s second year, he hired a baker named Jacques who “developed a real passion for bread, for trying a lot of new things.” Jacques moved on, but Jenny has worked for the bakery for 19 years and “she’s a huge part of the day-to-day functioning,” says Landry. “I couldn’t do it without her.”
What does he like most? “My favorite thing to make used to be scones,” says Landry. “I love the simplicity of it, and how easily you can screw it up. Mine are rarely like anybody else’s. But it’s a challenge, too, because I want everything perfect, and scones are supposed to be imperfect.” He laughs. “My biggest struggle is being a perfectionist.”
If you’ve never been to Connie’s, though, Landry wants you to try something simple: Challah rolls with butter. “Challah is my new favorite thing, because I have this recipe I love. I’ve developed it so it’s perfect all the time, it’s a great dough and there’s no sugar, just honey.” He pauses. “A lot of honey,” he adds with a smile.
When he’s not at work, Landry enjoys Provincetown summers. “I get to the beach at least once a week,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll kayak out to Long Point. I try to catch a few shows—I love the Broadway ones. Thursdays are my day off and I head over to Relish.”
Winters, he acknowledges, can be tough. “I’m always trying to find projects to keep me entertained,” he says. He got involved with teaching at Winter Wednesdays, coordinating the program for the health department. “Then I taught Pies, Pies, and More Pies,” he says. “I picked it because it was something I didn’t feel comfortable doing, so there I was teaching and learning the subject. I did tons and tons of reading about flour and whole grains, contacted the Whole Grain Council, bought all that stuff and learned all about it.”
A pie class was scheduled during one of this past winter’s nor’easters. “I had just started cooking the chicken when the power want out,” Landry recalls. “I looked around and realized I had $470 worth of chicken there. I called Morgan at Town Hall, and she told me to go use the kitchen at the community center, where they had a generator. The storm passed but the power didn’t come on, so we decided to cancel the class and just cook for the community. People just showed up to help and to eat, Far Land donated coffee, and we made and shared ten big chicken pot pies. It was a learning experience for me, too. I can be really stubborn and controlling and it was hard for me to ask for help. I’m so glad I did.”
He’s pretty happy about the way his life has turned out in general. “I worked in bookstores starting when I was 14,” he says. “Small independent booksellers, then I managed college bookstores, and I just burned out. I needed a new career. My mother said, ‘Why don’t you just go for baking?’ I hadn’t even considered it as a career, just a hobby. But now? It never feels like work. I love what I’m doing.”
And anyone who’s ever had bread or pastries from Connie’s loves what he’s doing, too!