After the death of the husband, the Brunswick woman’s bread turned from a cure to a thriving business

Kristi Freeman (left) poses with her fiancé Zep Dodge and daughter Hannah in their kitchen on July 7, 2022. John Terhune/Times Record

Four tiered lemon raspberry cake. Chocolate and peanut butter pie. tiramisu.

Not too long ago, Midcoast residents looking for a late-night treat might have stuck with a candy bar from a vending machine or maybe some gas station ice cream. But over the past two years, police officers, college students, and other nocturnal sugar lovers have transformed Christie’s creations from a side hustle to a bustling, 24/7 family bakery on quiet Hennessy Street in Brunswick.

“We bake every day, two shifts a day,” said owner Kristi Freeman. “That’s all we do. We’ll go all night depending on what we have orders. On Friday nights we usually don’t go to bed.”

Pumpkin pies. white chocolate blondies. Jumbo citrus volatility.

Freeman always loved baking growing up. While the other kids tuned in to Saturday morning cartoons, PBS cooking shows preferred.

Orders line up for the rest of this week on a refrigerator in Christy Freeman’s kitchen on July 7, 2022. John Terhune/Times Record

After a heart attack killed Freeman’s husband Russell in 2017, baking is more than a hobby for a single mother now for a teenage daughter: It was an emotional release.

“I thought my life was over,” she remembered. “But I had to get a job, do something to support myself and my daughter. I started baking on the side. It became my cure – just a reason to keep going and move on.”

Freeman often shared her creations with fellow nurses at Mid Coast Hospital. She gives up on their suggestions to start a business but begins to distract her during restless nights by researching and designing a commercial kitchen.

Then the pandemic arrived, and Freeman found herself in the midst of an ocean of laid-off Americans. Needing some way to make money, I decided to spend more time on Christie’s creations, which until that point had been a small side project.

“We started selling baked goods, just to tell people, ‘We’re here,'” Freeman said. “The bake sale never ended.”

A selection of desserts and drinks awaits purchase at Kristie’s Creations on July 7, 2022. John Terhune/Times Record

Dark chocolate cherry cookies. Pork and cheddar quiche. meatloaf.

Zip Dodge wasn’t much of a baker, but he knew how to cook.

Dodge, once a childhood sweetheart of Freeman, is back with her in 2019. When he, too, lost his job due to the pandemic, he joined his now fiancée in the kitchen for marathon baking sessions that regularly run until 6 a.m.

“It’s our life now,” he said.

Besides taking the lead on the bakery’s comfort food dinner, which he aims to cook once a week, Dodge was responsible for the most unique element of the business: the Unattended Bakery’s Kiosk, 24-7, where customers can pay for a variety of rewards using Venmo, PayPal, cash or check, thanks to a locked deposit box.

“I called Kristi and said, ‘Why don’t we make a bakery booth instead of a farm booth?'” Dodge said. “It kind of went from there.”

20-30 customers visit the bakery stand each week, which is about half of Kristie’s Creation’s business, according to Freeman. Many workers stop late at night, including taxi drivers and police officers, to buy sweets, as do an increasing number of college students.

“Words are spreading quickly through Bowdoin,” said Angela Keating, a Bowdoin College shuttle driver, who learned about the bakery from fellow student Jennifer Jacobs. “Before you know it, I take the kids there every night.”

It’s no secret that students flock to Christie’s School, Keating said.

“The cupcake is just divine,” she said. “I wish I had never found it because it’s really hard to drive.”

Kristi Freeman (left) poses with her daughter Hana and fiancé Zep Dodge next to their 24/7 bakery on July 7, 2022. John Terhune/Times Record

Million dollar bars. Frozen banana. cannoli.

Hannah Freeman, a college student, cake decorating designer and occasional tasting lab, said she was happy to see her mother’s passion grow into a Brunswick staple.

“It was our dream when we grew up that the bakery would be in the corner,” she said. “Instead, we kind of made it here.”

Although the company has made some recent upgrades, including two anti-theft cameras from bakery stand coolers, Freeman said she’s satisfied with Christie’s creations as they are. After experiencing personal tragedy and professional hardship, bringing some sweetness into the world is worth more than late nights in the kitchen.

“I love seeing kids get off their bikes,” she said. “I love being that neighborhood place, where grandmothers walk their kids to get a little treat. I have spent four years depressed and sad. I just want to make people happy.”

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