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How small-town charm has helped two Somerset businesses withstand the test of time

Posted at 7:53 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 19:58:59-04

SOMERSET, Ky. (LEX 18) — No matter what day you go, business is always booming at two of Somerset’s staple family-owned businesses.

Amon’s Sugar Shack and Baxter’s Coffee are two highly beloved spots that have been around for decades.

Amon’s opened in 1951, and the story behind the bakery is just as sweet as its treats.

“Dad bought the bakery for my mom for her birthday,” said owner Doug Stephens. “She said it was the gift that kept on giving.”

Amon’s Sugar Shack was originally operated by Amon and Rosemary Stephens. They grew the business for decades before handing over the reins to their son, Doug.

“It was just kind of a little hole in the wall,” Doug Stephens said. “To try to keep their legacy going on, I think it’s a privilege to try to do.”

Seventy years later, Stephens says people will still come from all corners of the world to try his family’s recipes.

“We’ve probably made close to a billion donuts over the years,” Stephens said.

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But the true marker of success for Stephens isn’t measured in donuts sold or sandwiches eaten. He says the real secret to building a business people will come back to for years is to treat it like an extension of home.

“My biggest pleasure is when the people that grew up in Somerset who have moved away come back for family and school reunions and they get something to eat and they say, ‘Man, that’s just the way I remembered!’” Stephens said with a smile. “We try to make everybody feel at home.”

That feeling of community is also the foundation of Baxter’s Coffee.

“It’s a melting pot for everybody in the community,” said owner Jay Tuttle.

Baxter’s Coffee opened in 2001 on the heels of the September 11 attacks.

Tuttle said the coffee shop became a place of comfort for many in Somerset during a time where everything seemed uncertain.

“People were looking for somewhere to go, people to talk to. They were looking for a sense of community and I think, naturally, a coffee shop in a small community gives that,” Tuttle said.

The Tuttle family realized the value of treating customers like family that year.

And they never let themselves forget.

“We may not always know your name, but we always know your drink and that’s something we kind of laugh about as a family being in a family business,” Tuttle said.

And it’s worked well so far.

Baxter’s Coffee has expanded to several locations across Somerset over the years. In the past few years, the Tuttles have even started roasting their own coffee beans.

“Twenty years perfecting every little detail that we do and we continue to get better and grow every single day. But it’s just been a labor of love,” Tuttle said.

That’s the secret formula to keep bringing people back, according to Tuttle and Stephens.

Love, passion, and a little bit of local charm.