Bake Me Happy opens gluten free shop in Merion Village

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Gluten free bakery Bake Me Happy opens this weekend in Merion Village. On Saturday, Sept. 20, they'll celebrate the launch of their retail storefront with a party from 5 to 9 p.m. Expect lots of pastry samples, Crimson Cup coffee, food from The Kitchen in German Village and more at the bakery at 116 E. Moler St.

The move into a permanent space was quick, admits co-owner Wendy Miller Pugh. After only a year in business, Bake Me Happy was outgrowing its kitchen space at ARC Industries and needed room to grow their wholesale business. Wendy, and partner Letha Pugh found the 2,800-square-foot space on Craigslist earlier this summer-its location in Merion Village piquing their interest after reading an article noting this South Side neighborhood as an up-and-coming area. One look at the black-and-white-checkered floor and they were sold. "We never found anything else we loved more," Wendy says. "It used to be Bluebird Bakery and I think people are real nostalgic for that."

Nostalgia is also the inspiration behind a lot of Bake Me Happy's treats. "Everything I do comes from a personal standpoint because I have to be gluten free," Wendy says. "When I could eat gluten I couldn't say I wanted a Twinkie." But take the option away? That's when cravings hit, she laughs. That's why Bake Me Happy cooks up gluten free renditions of oatmeal cream pies, Twinkie-like pastries called Spongies (look for a red velvet version at the grand opening) and coconut-covered, cream-filled SnoBalls.

The plan is to be open a few days a week for retail service, and then potentially expand hours as demand grows. "The other thing we are learning is people want coffee," Wendy says. So Bake Me Happy is considering offer brews from Crimson Cup coffee, too.

"It's just to keep a little fun. There are a lot of bakeries that make gluten free things but we wanted to do more than just replace your chocolate chip cookies," she says.