Martha Merz, recognized by locals as the Martha of Martha's Pastries, is retiring after spending the past 28 years running her Sharon Heights bakery.
A community event in her honor will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Sharon Heights Shopping Center courtyard at 325 Sharon Park Drive. Visitors are encouraged to bring photos of events featuring confections from the bakery, and to record memories in Ms. Merz's retirement book. Complimentary refreshments and gifts will be offered, as supplies last.
Ms. Merz will be saying goodbye to many longtime customers. "A number of customers have been with us the whole time," Ms. Merz said. "There was one customer who told me I was her first friend when she moved in across the street years ago and would stop by in the mornings."
She ran the bakery with her husband, and all five of her children were known to help out at the shop.
Before starting Martha's Pastries, Ms. Merz began her career at the Woodside Bakery with its original owner. Her connection to the Woodside Bakery comes full circle as she retires: She has sold her business to the owners of the Woodside Bakery & Cafe, Mark and Jan Sweyer. That bakery was forced to vacate its previous location in Woodside in March 2016.
Favorite delicacies of Martha's Pastries included old-fashioned European tarts, cinnamon bread, challah bread, cakes and tea cookies. However, as Ms. Merz retires, not all of those treats will be lost. She is spending a month informing the new pastry chef on her methods for making some of her most popular items, including challah, cinnamon bread, tarts, cookies and Palmier puff pastry.
This year, the pastry shop won the Almanac's 2016 Reader's Choice Award for Best Bakery.
The Oct. 1 event will be sponsored by Shady Lane, a neighboring gift shop in the shopping center. Shady Lane will also host an event that day called "Celebrating with Gratitude" from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., where artisans will be present and visitors can enjoy refreshments and enter to win free gift cards, according to Alice Deutscher of Shady Lane.