The Business of the Year award is one of the Chamber’s most prestigious awards celebrating excellence in a business’ industry and in their community. This award, sponsored by Index Packaging, recognizes a Chamber member who has demonstrated leadership and involvement in the betterment of the business community and the greater Rochester area. At the Chamber’s Annual Awards Celebration held on Wednesday evening, June 1, 2022, at The Oaks, the Chamber was pleased to present the 2022 Business of the Year award to Potter’s House Bakery & Café.
Potter’s House Bakery & Café, located at 10 Chestnut Hill Road in Rochester, NH opened its doors on the morning of May 2, 2018, taking only ten months from idea to fruition. In July 2017, Tim and Sue Willson came home to Rochester after over 20 years of being away, living in various parts of the country. Once here, they almost immediately became involved with Cindy Ziobrowski of Camp CARD. Together, and with support from family and friends, they set out to establish a training site for young adults on the autism spectrum. Years earlier, Cindy had developed Camp CARD for just that purpose, but had never had a physical site at which to conduct the training. The partnership was sealed after Tim baked scones for the staff at Camp CARD — and Potter’s House was on its way to becoming a reality.
The primary reason this bakery came to be was because of the need to provide for young adults who fell through the cracks after high school and needed job training support. Many of the students from the first few classes went on to work in other establishments in our community, especially after area business-owning customers found out what Potter’s was up to and became involved in job placement. Some students have become part of the team at the bakery.
Tim is a self-taught, lifelong baker, who is a perfectionist to the core. Everything he and his staff produce is made on-site and from scratch. There are no shortcuts, and as a result, Tim works at least 15-hour days, six days a week, sometimes seven. And it is not unusual for him to work up to 36 hours straight during the holidays. The result for Rochester has been a much-needed, high-quality bakery, producing the most enjoyable calories you will ever eat, and a sunny cafe where friends meet for coffee or lunch on a regular basis.
Family traditions are already forming, at a place where Thanksgiving pies are purchased, birthday cakes are chosen, and Saturday morning breakfasts are enjoyed. The people of this city have welcomed The Potter’s House warmly, causing the business to expand and flourish in the four short years since it began with Tim and Sue, and just one employee.
Strong community relationships have been formed with Spaulding High School, many of the elementary schools in town, as well as The Rochester Rec Department. Potter’s has made donations to these and other non-profit organizations on countless occasions. With the help of their generous customers, they have established a “Pay it Forward” program which provides free beverages, pastries, soups, and sandwiches to those who experience food insecurity in our community. In 2021, Potter’s House Bakery and Cafe was certified by Governor Sununu as a Recovery Friendly Workplace Designation, meaning they have met the requirements to support employees as well as all community members who may be impacted by addiction.
In addition, Potter’s House Bakery & Café contributes to several other community organizations and causes; you will always find a collection box at the bakery collecting for youth and sporting activities and more.
Over the years, Potter’s House has been acknowledged for its unique mission by Foster’s Daily Democrat, WCSH News, Portland Maine, and most recently, NH Chronicle filmed a piece at the bakery.
According to Darlene Towle of MLC Catering, “I have witnessed the behind-the-scenes tireless dedication that these two owners have invested in their business, their employees, their students, and their community. It is wonderful to see this little gem of a bakery cafe, whose motto is Goodies for Goodness Sake, is being recognized for its contributions.
For these reasons, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce was proud to name Potter’s House Bakery & Café as its 2022 Business of the Year.
The previous year’s recipient, Harrison Thorp of The Rochester Voice, presented the award to Tim and Sue Willson, owners of the Potter’s House Bakery & Cafe.