‘Taste of Heaven’ lives up to its name in Maxwelton

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

As I pull off Route 219 North just past the airport in Maxwelton, Barry Manilow croons on the radio, “Sweet heaven, I’m in love again.” Coincidence? Surely not. 

I park outside Taste of Heaven Bakery & Cheese Shop, located between an auto repair shop and a off-road-vehicle dealer just past the airport entrance. If you’re not looking for it, you might miss it. 

But you don’t need to look hard, because you can smell the heavenly creations Carole Spencer bakes fresh every day emanating from inside the kitchen. 

Taste of Heaven is owned and operated by Carole Spencer. While it may look unassuming from the outside, it is packed full of homemade, wholesome food on the inside. Photo by RealWV.

20 years in business

The shop originally opened in 2000 and was operated as a cheese shop by Clyde and Ron Miller. Not long after, Joan Vance began a bakery downstairs. Carol worked for her, before Brenda Rapp combined the bakery and cheese shop together. Then in 2004, Carole took the place over after buying it from Brenda. 

“I changed the name,” she remembers. “My son came up with ‘A Taste of Heaven’. It just seemed to fit.” 

Indeed, it does. 

Photo by RealWV.

The bread is so popular you have to order it in advance. Especially if you want multiple loaves, and just about everybody wants multiple loaves. 

Carole has three main varieties–sourdough, yeast, and honey wheat. She makes over 100 loaves every week, and they don’t stick around long. 

“It doesn’t taste like what you get in the store,” she says. “People like it because it’s homemade.” The receip for the sourdough, her most popular variety, is her grandmother-in-law’s recipe. The honey wheat and yeast recipes are the sames ones Joan made back in 2000. 

A personal confession: I eat here for lunch just about every week. She makes the best sandwich around, and the sandwich is a great excuse to get a sweet treat. Photo by RealWV.

“Fresh every morning”

Carole is in the shop baking by 4am each day. “I like to stick to a schedule,” she says. “That’s just the type of person I am.”

She spends the next six hours baking breads, cookies, pies, cupcakes, dinner rolls, pepperoni rolls, and more for her customers before opening the doors at 10am. “That way it’s fresh every morning,” she says. 

But Carole isn’t alone. Her husband, Carl, makes all the salads–chicken, pasta, and potato salads. “Chicken salad is one of our most popular items,” she shares. Her son, AJ, helps in all sorts of ways. Lorraine Sharp and Season Jones also work in the shop during the week to assist with the food and customers. 

Daily lunch specials

In addition to the breads, salads, and desserts available each day, Carole offers a daily lunch special available on a regular rotation. On Tuesday, it’s a chef salad. On Wednesday, it’s chicken salad. On Thursday, it’s hot dogs. On Friday, it’s a reuben. 

Her customers come from all around, but she says the bulk of them are locals who come in the shop time and time again. “We have a lot of workers,” she says. “Like construction and farming and health care. The local businesses really come out to so support us for their lunches.” 

Interestingly, Carole says the majority of her customers are men. “I’m not sure why, but we have more men than women. They really enjoy getting the bread. Especially older men.” 

“This is my baby”

No one works harder than Carole. She spends long hours in the bakery in order to provide for her customers. What drives her?

“I have to pay the bills,” she jokes, before saying it’s really labor of love. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I like to work. I find it hard to take a vacation. This is my baby. You raise your babies up, but you never quit worrying about them.” 

Carole’s bread is so popular she has to post disclaimers all around the store about its limited availability! Photo by RealWV.

Carole’s favorite part of the job is baking bread. “I would rather do that than anything,” she shares. “I think a lot when i’m making bread. That’s my quiet time.” 

Taste of Heaven Bakery is located at 12622 Seneca Trail, just north of the Greenbrier Valley Airport. They are open Tuesday-Friday from 10am-3pm. You can also find Carol at the local Farmer’s Market (in the Robert C Byrd Clinic parking lot) from April-October on Saturday mornings.  Their phone number is 304-497-3425. Find them on Facebook as well.

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