Dancing Bear Bakery opens in Hollis

HOLLIS – Tired of the usual doughnuts or bagels for coffee break? Need something special to serve at your next social gathering? Stop by the new Dancing Bear Bakery counter inside the Hollis Village Grocery Store on the corner of routes 122 and 130 for some fresh-baked, old-world goodness.

“I bake everything right in the store,” said owner Dee Haddad, who opened up in September.

Her motto is “Where Sweet, Savory and Unique Come Together.” Haddad uses recipes passed down from her Austrian grandmother and great-grandmother to make a variety of Danishes, pastries and cheesecakes. She recently installed new ovens so she can expand her offerings.

“No one has heard of a kringle, but it’s like a Danish,” she said. “You typically form it in a circle, but I make them smaller to personalize it. They’re nice on weekends when you have family over for brunch because they’re very light and flaky and filled with fruit and nuts.”

Dancing Bear is open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and offers a variety of items throughout the day. In the morning, Haddad has fresh baked scones, muffins, pastries and sandwiches. Lunchtime customers can enjoy homemade soups, salads and chili. There are plenty of goodies available for the after-school crowd.

“There’s one little girl who comes in almost every day with her mother and buys a chocolate brownie,” Haddad said. “She says she buys it because she loves the frosting. She licks it all off – I’m not even sure if she eats the brownie or just the frosting.”

Haddad also does some catering, especially appetizers and savory tarts in flavors, such as tomato and brie, but said her real specialty is cheesecakes. She takes advance orders from customers who want a whole cheesecake, but also has one available in the bakery case in the store for those who want just a slice or two. One recent day, her featured cheesecake was Italian apricot and almond. She said another popular combination is one with rum, raisins and pine nuts. She even makes a cheesecake using blue cheese.

Haddad and her husband, Kev, lived in Hollis for several years until a job change brought them to upstate New York. It was there that she raised her children and began her bakery business.

So how did Dancing Bear get its name? From her daughter Lauren when she was 10 or 12 years old and the family dog.

“I had a chocolate lab in New York named Brownie that I used to bake biscuits for,” Haddad explained. “I had to leave the oven light on so she could see. She knew the smell and she’d dance around on her hind legs. Lauren used to say she looked just like a dancing bear.”

Young Lauren drew a picture of Brownie the dancing bear, which became the logo for the bakery still in use today. Lauren is all grown up now and has a baby daughter of her own, to go with the 10 children her three brothers have. With all her children grown up, Haddad said she’s glad to be back in Hollis and able to continue the Dancing Bear Bakery locally.

For the holidays, Haddad is taking orders for cheesecakes, pies and tarts, apple-walnut cinnamon twists, coffee cakes and her popular kringles, as well as decadent cookies. Call the bakery at 204-4519 to place an order.