Katrina Murphy can’t remember when she wasn’t a baker. Even in middle school she was making cakes for classmates’ birthdays. In college she majored in English, but frosting trumped Robert Frost when it came time to make a career choice. She always ended up working in bakeries, one in Aiken and later Kaminsky’s in Charleston. Now Murphy is opening her own bakery, Once Upon a Treat, on the corner of Huger and Rutledge streets. But this won’t just be a place for cakes and cookies, although she says, “we will have those and they’ll be delicious.” Instead, Murphy plans to make her new bakery an employment opportunity for women living in Section 8 housing and individuals with disabilities.

“The more important part of the bakery is that other than myself and the other baker, the hiring will be people who don’t get hired,” explains Murphy. She says she’ll start by hiring women who need a marketable skill to get out of a bad situation. “Women who need to gain some confidence in themselves and move forward and empower themselves,” she says. Murphy has identified an organization that works with women living in Section 8 housing. “If you’re in that program, you’re able to have a job that pays a reasonable wage for the duration of the program. And the goal is to save money and get out of the public housing,” Murphy says.

When Once Upon a Treat is up and running sometime around Thanksgiving, Murphy then hopes to staff up with people who have disabilities like autism. 

“The thing is, making a good cake takes attention and it’s science, but it’s not rocket science. Once people learn that skill, it has a lot of the skills you need for a lot of other potential service and hospitality jobs,” says Murphy. “Really if you tell people you can bake bread, everybody is in awe of someone who can make bread. It’s such a confidence builder for people who maybe haven’t had anybody who’s been proud of them.”

And Murphy doesn’t see why her new staff can’t learn how to make and be proud of the goods she plans to serve. Once Upon a Treat will sell whole cakes, whole pies, tarts, cookies, and breads. “We’ll have German chocolate cake every single day,” says Murphy. “And shortbread every day.” She also plans to have a bread and cake schedule online so shoppers can track when their favorite sweets are available. And the shop will be open for breakfast as well serving items like kolache, an Eastern European dough filled with both sweet and savory ingredients. 

But don’t expect any cakes with fondant. Murphy says there are plenty of places in town to get a beautiful fondant cake, but at Once Upon a Treat Murphy prefers buttercream, red velvet, and chocolate. 

Once open in November, Once Upon a Treat will keep hours from  7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday.

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