Nicole Martin of Central Illinois Bakehouse

When Nicole Martin found herself in a transitional time after having her family, she took a part time job with Central Illinois Bake House (CIB), a wholesale bakery located in Champaign’s Midtown, and thought that was that. Fast forward four years and Nicole is now the Operational Manager of Central Illinois Bake House, overseeing the day-to-day duties of running a bakery as well as managing the staff. We were lucky enough to sit down with Nicole and learn about the inner workings of Central Illinois, what the term “PEOPLING” means, and why September will now be our favorite month for baked goods

Tell me about yourself and how you got involved with CIB?

My name is Nicole Martin and about four years ago, after I had my two kids, I was just looking for something to do in the evenings and I became a part-time evening cleaner at Central Illinois Bake House. After a while I transitioned into a position in the packaging department and when the Brokish’s took over they asked me to move into the office, get my HR certification, and become the HR manager for their family of businesses (Pekara, Central Illinois Bakehouse and Martinelli’s Market). I had kind of fallen in love with the Bake House and all the staff at that point and so when the opportunity presented itself, I became the Operations Manager at the Bake House, as well.

What is your official role at CIB and what would a "day in the life" be like?

As far as my position at the Bake House goes, I am the Operations and HR manager. I like to refer to what I do as “peopling” and as the HR manager for all of the Brokish businesses I do a lot of “peopling” during the day. Between being charge of payroll time, time attendance I would say most of my day is spent interacting with the people and making sure they have everything they need. I’m a little bit of everywhere and do a little bit of everything.

What sets Central Illinois Bakehouse apart from other bakeries?

I would say the artisan part of it definitely sets us apart as everything that comes out of Central Illinois Bakehouse is handcrafted. We also do not use any preservatives in any of our products.  I think the main thing that sets us apart from other bakeries though is our team. Almost everybody that works here has been a part of the company for over a year or longer and I think that shows in our product. You can just tell they really enjoy what they do.

How does being located in Champaign's Midtown serve the bakehouse?

Midtown has been a great location for us as it is a highly populated area of town, so we constantly have people coming by us and seeing what we are and what we do. We are a wholesale facility, so while we do not allow people to come in and purchase through us , all of the signs in our windows and such point the passerby’s in the right direction on where they can find where to purchase any of our items.

***Central Illinois Bakehouse products may be purchased at many local businesses –  go HERE for the complete list!

What is on the horizon for Central Illinois Bakehouse?

When you work in a wholesale bakery, there is always a lot going on! During the summer Farmer’s Markets are our big go to so we do about five farmers markets a week. We also participate in a lot of fundraisers and community events coming up, like the one we have with the Girl Scouts this week and then we will be releasing the start of our more Autumn menu items on September 1.

Give us a sneak peek of an upcoming fall item menu that you are excited about.

 Apple Cider Cronuts are my absolute favorite fall menu item. They are made from Curtis Orchard apple cider and are just delicious. 

Photo Credits

Main Photo – Hoemann Photography

Photo 1,2,3 – Champaign Center Partnership

Photo 4 – Central Illinois Bakehouse