Updated: Sep 10, 2020
San Bernardino Sun (The Sun): A new business is bringing some sugary goodness to San Bernardino. That’s sweet on multiple levels.
First, the business is the celebrated original Mommie Helen’s Bakery, long revered by the likes of Magic Johnson and Oprah for its baked goods.
Second, the thriving business is opening in a vacant space in a strip mall on E Street, next door to FedEx, in a city eager to welcome business.
Third, the bakery will generate jobs. Typically, there is a staff of six full-time positions, rising to 30 for the holidays.
Fourth, thousands of locals get to indulge in the legendary pies, cakes and cobblers Mommie Helen’s serves up.
Hollywood celebrities and hall-of-fame athletes are among the fans.
Shaquille O’Neal ordered 250 peach cobblers for his wedding, said Mommie Helen, who is really Dorothy Pryor Rose, born and raised in San Bernardino and happy to be back in her native city.
The move is a further sign that business is picking up in San Bernardino,
The bakery, which opened in 2000 in Colton, outgrew two different locations before moving here.
On hiatus since mid-December after leaving a 2,500-square-foot space in Colton, Mommie Helen’s new E Street digs measure more than 6,900 square feet.
Great news for pie fans.
Especially those with a persistent sweet tooth.
Like the expectant mother who waited in line for a pie at the bakery’s first location and went into labor. Because she didn’t want to lose her spot in line, she had her husband replace her while her mother-in-law took her to the hospital.
On any given day, the family-owned business named in honor of Rose’s mother, Helen Williams, will churn out 100 sweet-potato pies for customers with a craving.
The sweet-potato pies will change your life, one woman said.
Baking tentatively begins in early April when the bakery opens. Now, the interior space is under construction, with workers on a strict schedule — working morning, noon and night.
Construction crew members, who have installed two of the three bakery ovens, include Bobby Rose, Dorothy’s husband of 42 years,
Each of the huge stainless steel ovens can accommodate 165 bubbling pies baking to golden perfection.
Their magical menu of pies, cakes and cobblers, includes world-famous sweet-potato pie (orders come from as far away as Japan). pecan pie, pound cake flavors, red velvet cake, Sock-it-to-Me cake, cheesecake, and peach, apple, and roseberry cobbler — a happy combination of blueberries, strawberries, boysenberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Their decadent goodies are so popular that since they’ve been on hiatus, customers have called offering their kitchens if Dorothy and her daughters will only bake for them.
Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino) is a longtime Mommie Helen’s devotee.
“I’m so excited she has moved here. Her pies are just a slice of heaven,” Cheryl said, adding that sweet-potato pie and peach cobbler are her favorites.
As sort of a “pied” piper, Rose is hoping other businesses will follow her example and come to San Bernardino.
“It’s such an honor to be back here. I’ve met so many good people here,” she said.
“I want to tell other businesses, ‘I’m here. I’m not fearful. Come on back.’ San Bernardino has such good qualities.”
“We are extremely happy about Mommie Helen’s moving to San Bernardino,” said Judi Penman, president of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Her sweet potato pies are to die for — this is a real coup for San Bernardino,” Judi said.
Rose, 68, had a major heart attack in 2013, and has decided to step back a bit and serve as consultant for the business.
Tedra, 36, is the official new owner of the bakery.
Her grandmother Helen, who passed away at the age of 92, gave her recipes directly to her daughter and granddaughters.
“We use only the best ingredients and everything is made from scratch with no preservatives — just like it would be in your kitchen — only on a larger scale,” Tedra said. “The best butter, flour, sugar — and all our sweet potatoes are fresh-cooked.”
The bakery will also feature Southern menu items, from fried chicken to meatloaf, and tables for indoor dining.
The big Grand Opening is set for late April.
“It will be humongous,” Rose said.
Look for Hollywood celebrities, Hall of Fame athletes, car clubs, bikers, banners, balloons, lots of yummy food, live music, and the adorable kids, ages 6-17, from Hallelujah Temple.
Oh, yes, and pie.
Very upper crust.