Serving Sweets With A Smile

By Rebecca Susmarski
The Register-Mail, Galesburg, Ill.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Rebecca Susmarski sits down with entrepreneur Rachel Brown to chat about some of her interesting customers, what her favorite new recipe is at Uncle Billy’s, and why her husband Ron likes to call for her from the kitchen with a whistle.


The love that Rachel Brown has for her job shows in the way her eyes light up whenever she sees her customers, and how they reciprocate her enthusiasm.

Brown, 36, has a photographic memory for her customers’ names, their favorite menu items and even the day of the week they like to stop by at Uncle Billy’s Bakery, 83 S. Seminary St. That includes a couple who always orders pecan cinnamon rolls and scones, and a man who frequently comes in for croissants.

“It’s always a fun part not knowing people (who are) coming off the train or just passing through, because then you get to ask them where they’re from and where they’re going,” Brown said. “It’s interesting to hear their stories.”

Those customers rotate in and out of Uncle Billy’s and its adjacent business, Cornucopia Natural Food, at a rapid pace. Some congratulate Brown on buying Uncle Billy’s from Cornucopia’s owners, Maury and Susan Lyon, in early November. Others notice the little details.

“I didn’t recognize you with your hair down,” one regular said to Brown Wednesday.

That passion for customer service attracted Brown to the food service industry over the course of many years, and drove her to run Uncle Billy’s with her husband Ron. It’s also what helps Brown maintain her awe-inspiring amount of stamina — she worked a nonstop 42-hour shift through Thanksgiving after just coming off of surgery.

Brown built up her endurance by serving in the U.S. Air Force for three years, and her familiarity with Uncle Billy’s itself by working at Cornucopia in high school. She also worked at various country clubs, bars and catering restaurants over the years, including the Meadowbrook Country Club in Dayton, Ohio, where she met Ron.

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