OCEAN CITY - Cathy Greene, owner of Cathy's 14th Street Bakery, is the early riser's early riser.
The Ocean City resident starts her morning at 4:30 to begin preparing the day's fresh-baked doughnuts, pastries, muffins and cinnamon rolls at her store off Asbury Avenue.
It's a demanding routine, but one that comes of necessity when her first customers line up for sweet morning treats at 7 a.m.
"It's a long day. One morning I overslept and I was catching up all day," she said.
Greene owns the business with her husband, Ocean City architect Kevin C. Greene. Together, they have seven children who help out at the bakery.
Home of the white butter-cream doughnut, Cathy's 14th Street Bakery sells dozens of varieties of fruit-filled pastries, muffins and cinnamon rolls.
"The white cream doughnut is our famous thing," she said. "I make the dough from scratch. It has butter and sugar - and that's all I shall say."
Greene grew up in Horsham, Pa., as one of eight children. She learned to bake as a child, first with an Easy-Bake Oven before graduating to a real one that helped her prepare delicate cakes and pies.
She learned from her late father, Edwin McGarry. Her mother, Simone McGarry, was always a good cook, but had no interest in baking.
"She is from France. My mother never baked a single cookie. She won't resent my saying that because it's true," she said. "Dad was the baker. He made this great orange chiffon cake. He would make anything."
Greene knew she had a knack for baking. But Ocean City has plenty of bakery competition, with at least four bakeries, two supermarkets and various convenience stores offering baked goods.
Picking the right location for her new business was key, she said.
Greene said she wanted to be in Ocean City's downtown. When the former Brothers 14th Street Bakery closed, she saw her chance and opened in 2012.
"Location was hyper-critical," she said. "This bakery has been here since 1963 and has a longstanding reputation."
Since they buy fresh products, bakeries are especially susceptible to fluctuations in commodity prices. Flour and milk prices are up slightly from a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The price of cherries is up more than 14 percent over last June.
"Cherries were much more expensive than last year. They had a blight on the crop this year," Greene said.
Her first year met her expectations. This year, her sales volume has tripled.
But with the increased demand comes more work. Occasionally, she even has to turn away orders.
"We can hardly keep up. Every day is a new day that I'm learning something," she said.
Customers are demanding more from bakery cakes, asking for themes or decorations like they see on Food Network shows.
For one child's birthday party, she combined five colors to design a camouflage cake suiting the child's outdoor interests.
Kelsey White, of Collegeville, Pa., stopped at the bakery to pick up the birthday cake her family had specially made for her sisters, Courtney and Karleigh. The cake featured an ocean scene complete with a brown-sugar beach.
Greene said she would like her cream doughnut to become as popular some day as two Ocean City staples - Johnson's Popcorn and Shriver's saltwater taffy.
"Sure, why not? Mrs. Fields was just a mom with a handful of girls who made her own chocolate chip cookies," she said.
Contact Michael Miller:
Cathy's 14th Street Bakery
Location: 407 14th St., Ocean City
Owners: Cathy and Kevin Greene, of Ocean City
Revenue: Not disclosed