A bakery that started out as a stall at Soulard Farmers’ Market has opened a full kitchen and storefront just a block away. Mauki’s Bakery & Country Store opened October 28 at 1730 South 8th Street, in the former Four Strings space.
Longtime Mauki’s customers will recognize a number of favorite items that are regularly offered at the new store. Best-sellers include owner Angie Swyers’ hot pepper zucchini bread, focaccia, blueberry lemon bread, and smoked salsa, which is made with peppers grown on Swyers’ home farm.
The menu includes traditional American breakfast and lunch entrées, sandwiches, and burgers. The Humpty Dumpty Sandwich (pictured above) includes sausage or bacon served with egg and cheese on a biscuit. There’s also country fried steak, pancakes, bacon, sausage, and egg-based breakfast plates.
Hearty servings are a consistent theme; witness the enormous portion of biscuits and gravy for $8.99. “It could feed a family of four,” Swyers says, “but I do have people who finish it.” (It lasted us for three meals.)
The lunch plates follow a similar vein, with a BLT, Yanked Pig (pulled pork) sandwich, chicken sandwich, mac ‘n’ cheese with pulled pork, and Barnyard Nachos (pictured above)—a lusty plate of meats and cheese atop chips. Swyers even grinds the patty meat for the bacon cheeseburger herself. “I try to do as much as I possibly can fresh,” she says, “and it makes a difference with the taste.”
That’s most evident in the homemade bakery items, one of the store’s flagship attractions. Baking is literally what Swyers gets out of bed for—and early. “I get up at 2 o’ clock in the morning, get down here as fast as I can, and start baking,” she says.
In addition to the savory loaves, Mauki’s stocks a range of sweet baked goods. There are cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and Swyers bakes cakes and pies in a variety of shapes and sizes: carrot cake, blueberry pie, peach crumb, and more.
The bar from previous tenant Four Strings remains intact, though Swyers does not currently have plans to sell alcohol. The drink list keeps it simple with $2 coffee, tea, orange juice, milk, and bottled sodas.
Customers can dine in at one of several tables with bench seating or two high-top tables. Food can also be ordered to-go, and orders can be called in or placed online via the Mauki’s website. Swyers says she plans to designate parking spots for curbside pickup and may add delivery in the future.
Mauki’s has been a popular stop at Soulard Farmers’ Market since Swyers debuted the stall in 2015, and she’ll continue to be a vendor on weekends. (The location is ideal for shuttling products between the bakery and Soulard Farmers’ Market.)
The market stall started as a point of sale for products from Swyers’ farm, Mauki Sun Farm, which she established in Maryland Heights in 2015 to raise chickens, grow vegetables, and more. “I needed an outlet, because I tried selling it from my front porch, and they had an issue—no big deal,” she says with a laugh.
As the bakery grew a following, Swyers expanded the selection to include her homemade jams, jellies, and salsas. She continued running the farm and bakery while maintaining a corporate career with a medical-supplies company. “I worked 40-plus hours a week. Then every week, I had to bake and get ready for Saturday. Then I worked all day Saturday at the market.”
In December 2019, her company relocated the office, bringing her 20-year career as a customer service manager to an end. At that point, she decided to devote her energies to Mauki’s full-time. “It’s been doing so well, I’ve got a following, so I just decided now was the time.”
Of course, all of this was before COVID-19. In fact, the pandemic hit just as Swyers was finalizing the lease on the space.
Among the treasure trove of bric-a-brac to be found in a historic Soulard building like this, Swyers stumbled upon several century-old beer bottles. She believes they are a legacy of the building’s apparent history as a site used by long-defunct brewery Great Western Weiss Beer, hinted at by a ghost sign on the building’s exterior. The bottles are now on display at the counter.
Swyers says Mauki’s offerings will expand to include fountain sodas, dried herbs, and other items. She intends to focus on her own homegrown and homemade products but says there’s a possibility of hosting items from other local entrepreneurs.
She’s still figuring out the neighborhood’s wants and needs, and she invites requests and feedback from locals. So far, though, Swyers couldn’t be happier with the response.
“This community has been so supportive,” Swyers says. “I can’t even begin to tell you how supportive they’ve been.”