A family run business, Lilly’s Café is a “mom and pop” operation personified. From the moment that each of Alex and Susan’s children were able, they began helping out at the bakery. At the tender ages of 9, 7 and 6 respectively, Alex and Susan’s children began assisting their parents on a daily basis during after school hours with small tasks ranging from running the cash register to clean up.
On Saturdays the routine was the same, as mixed in with the flour; sugar, baking pans and racks one would surely find one or two little faces. Today, Alex and Susan’s children are still an intricate part of the business, as they actively assist with the day-to-day operations & are committed to being at the helm of Lilly’s when the café torch is passed on to the next generation of family ownership.
Alex and Susan’s youngest child was too young to work at the bakery when first purchased in 1989. However, in true family style and family tradition, he began working at Lilly’s at the age of six. Alex and Susan reminisced about happily showing a photo of their youngest child to their regular customers as he sat at a cake preparation table spreading sumptuous mousse on a luscious double-layered treat. Sadly, that photo, along with Lilly’s Galen Street location is nothing more than a memory.
After the close of business on a cold February evening in 2005, all that made Lilly’s a community landmark was lost when an electrical fire consumed the bakery along with six other small businesses. Saddened by the destruction of the much-loved local institution, Lilly’s faithful customers and the community at large rallied in support of the family. Alex and Susan were overwhelmed by the out pouring of love, as flowers, gifts, letters and phone calls of support came pouring in. One letter was particularly touching as it included a $20.00 bill from an eight year old girl who had emptied her piggy bank in despair at the thought of never being able to enjoy another birthday cake from Lilly’s. Never realizing how many lives they had touched during their 17 years on Galen Street, Alex and Susan vowed that Lilly’s Café and French Bakery would, like a phoenix, rise from the ashes. Not only would they rebuild, but they would do so in Watertown, the community that had adopted their family bakery as its own hometown son.
Lilly’s Café and French Bakery would indeed rise from the ashes like a phoenix and gracefully land in Watertown at a new location in the spring of 2006.
On May 1, 2006 pleasant fragrances filled the air as Alex and Susan, with their children by their side, opened the doors of the new Lilly’s Café and French Bakery at 71 Arlington Street in Watertown’s East side. A crowd had gathered outside. Family, friends and those involved in the resurrection of the bakery streamed through Lilly’s Café’s new front foyer to join Alex, Susan and family in a private re-opening celebration. Each person paused to reflect on the photo display of the Galen Street fire prominently hung on the entrance wall. Centered in this photo display is a quote which reads “A time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun”.
A new season had dawned for the Lilly’s Café and French Bakery family. On the day of their private re-opening what would family, friends and old customers find when they entered the new facility? They would see a Lilly’s Café that is not only new but improved! A new Café that is twice the size of the old Galen Street site with ample off street parking. And that’s not all…To top off your lunch, of course there are Lilly’s famous cakes and pastries. Famous you ask? Yes! Lilly’s has received cake orders from places as far away as Great Britain and Mexico City along with regular repeat trade from the Big Apple, New York City. When you stop in, you could try a local crowd pleaser such as Tosca…their almond cake dipped in chocolate. If you’re looking for something light and creamy there’s always mousse…Lemon Raspberry, Caramel, Strawberry Mango just to name a few.
Catering services for lunch functions are now available too. Lilly’s Café and French Bakery offers a variety of sandwich platters that come with or without “the extras” of Greek or garden salad, cookies and beverages along with their new “make your own” customized deli sandwiches platters.
Lilly’s also offers “Totes to Go”, lunch bags containing a sandwich of your choice; chips, cookie and a drink, which are available for outdoor corporate functions and golf tournaments.
With Lilly’s being in business for 30 years, a new generation is set to take over. Susan and Alex decided in the beginning of 2018 that they would retire at the end of the year. Starting in January 2019, the spatula will be passed on to their daughter Kristen to continue the Lilly’s legacy.
So come in soon to enjoy a cup of coffee and one of the confectionary delights for which Lilly’s is known. While you’re there, take time to bask in the warmth of the hometown hospitality of this tightly knitted family bakery, where you are not just a customer, but part of the family.