CAPE ELIZABETH — Coconut doughnuts, cream horns and Persian buns will soon be served again at The Cookie Jar pastry shop.

The reopening of the local landmark on Shore Road is good news to a community of sweet tooths who have been suffering from withdrawal since a storm ripped off the bakery’s roof 3½ years ago.

The owners plan a “soft” opening in time for Memorial Day weekend. Their hope is to hold a grand reopening in conjunction with the town’s Family Fun Day on June 12.

The Cookie Jar was a casualty of an October 2006 storm that delivered 70 mph gusts around the state. Fourteen people were working in the bakery that Saturday afternoon.

“We just had to evacuate immediately,” said Donna Piscopo, who owns the bakery with her husband, Tom. “Then it just rained for days. We lost all of the equipment – everything.”

The storm soaked ceiling tiles and insulation, and caused rot. The interior of the building was stripped to the studs as part of the renovation.


Piscopo said the bakery turned out to be underinsured — which she vows won’t happen again. As the business struggled to get financing, the couple worried about their ability to reopen.

Jon Smith, owner of Great Falls Construction, was willing to step in because of his interest in preserving local institutions. The Gorham-based construction management and general contracting company is financing the renovation and doing most of the work.

Great Falls Construction bought the building at a low cost, paid off the bakery’s debt and worked out a repayment plan, said Todd Rothstein, the company’s project manager and business developer.

At the end, the construction company will be out of the picture, he said. “We knew if anybody was going to make it, they were going to make it,” Rothstein said of the Piscopos.

this week, signs of the storm damage were long gone. But more work needed to be done, such as installing the front door and adding ceiling tiles.

The pastry cases are already standing on the new floor of the freshly painted shop. Two technicians were at work installing the air conditioning.


The Cookie Jar has been in Cape Elizabeth since the 1950s, when Lila Gaudet moved her bakery from Boothbay Harbor. The business has been in the Piscopo family since Tom’s parents, Grace and Frank Piscopo, bought it in 1970. Tom and Donna have worked there since they were teenagers.

At the Irving service station next door, Ray Clark and his employees field questions about the bakery every day. “I have heard from all the customers, ‘What’s happening with The Cookie Jar?’” Clark said. “They even come from out of state.”

Donna Piscopo said all of the old favorites will be back when The Cookie Jar reopens, as will the soup and sandwiches she had introduced before the storm. The business will likely open with 12 employees, and have more than 15 once it’s been running for awhile.

One new feature is likely to be visiting student bakers from Southern Maine Community College, where Donna is earning an associate’s degree in culinary arts. She thinks the bakery will be a good place for advanced pastry students to fulfill their requirement of creating recipes and serving their work.

When Jason Brawn was growing up in Cape Elizabeth, The Cookie Jar was always part of the fabric of his life. Although his family lived on the other side of town, treats from the bakery were a constant presence on the kitchen counter.

He recalls fondly the string-tied boxes and the ladies behind the counter, working in their bakers’ whites and hairnets.


Brawn, who’s now 41 and living in Cornish, still counts the raspberry-filled cookies — thick, chewy and approaching the size of a pancake — among his earliest memories.

“If I’m at another bakery or wandering around and I see raspberry-filled cookies, I might get one and think it’s going to match those. And it never does,” said Brawn, who manages a commercial photography studio in Portland — close enough to The Cookie Jar to get his fix.



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