By Grace Miller | Photography by John Michael Simpson
Walk into Carolina Cravings Co. and you’ll hear the industrial mixer humming along as Yeraldyn Martinez and Iliana Escalante fill shelves with baked goods. Treats like pan dulce and café con leche that stir up childhood memories of family and fun for Yeraldyn, like the mornings that she would often spend with her grandparents in Zacatecas, Mexico.
Yeraldyn and Iliana took over the business in February from previous partners Jodi Hackney of The Phoenix Bakery, Jimmy Stubbs of Allen & Son Bar-B-Que and Danielle Rose. The baking duo continue to create the original recipes of the shop – the popular pie bars, muffins and no-bake peanut butter-chocolate cookies, among others – in addition to treats like flan, bolillos, tres leches cake and conchas that are familiar in Spanish-speaking communities.
Yeraldyn, who worked with Jodi for three years at The Phoenix Bakery, manages social media and customer service for Cravings. She moved to Pittsboro when she was in middle school and remembers her own experiences of walking home through downtown after getting out of class at Horton to get ice cream from S&T’s Soda Shoppe. “I would like to be a trusted destination for kids to walk to [in] town, like I did,” she says. “A place to go and get a treat and see friends. Hopefully, they will have fond memories of Cravings for years to come!”
Iliana worked at the bakery for a year under Danielle, the previous manager. She focuses on baking and business development and recently made the move from Sanford to Pittsboro. “I really like the community,” she says. “It’s very friendly, … and I love the downtown.”
Yeraldyn and Iliana also have a booth at the Chatham Mills Farmers Market on Saturday mornings as a way to further connect with locals. They want customers “not to come and get treats, but to get treated,” Yeraldyn says. She adds that the recent addition of a freezer chest will allow them to sell more beverages. “We are trying to expand it with coffee,” she says. They are also toying with the possibility of developing a restaurant with savory food options, like tacos, as well as adding indoor seating.
Their lives continue to grow both professionally and personally, and the pair are excited about the bakeshop’s future. “Everything keeps on falling into place at the right time,” Yeraldyn says.