OLD SAYBROOK – Tyler Lawson is a 21-year-old Old Saybrook man who loves to cook.
His love has led him to work as a full-time baker at the Paperback Café in Old Saybrook, where he sometimes arrives to work as early as 5:45 a.m. when even during tourism season, the town is only starting to awaken.
The restaurant, tucked away in the Porter Plaza off Main Street, features more than 30 kinds of muffins and scones which Lawson makes.
Other items Lawson makes includes bread, whoopee pies, rice crispy treats, cookies, dried and fresh fruits and nuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and cinnamon chips.
Lawson said one of the most popular items used to be cinnamon butter muffins but recently there is more demand for maple pecan scones.
This is part of a trend Lawson said he has noticed where scones sell out much quicker than muffins where in the past it was the exact opposite.
While it isn’t a typical item, Lawson said he likes to add variety and sometimes makes oatmeal raisin cookies.
On the typical weekday, Lawson makes three dozen muffins and one dozen scones.
He admits his coworker encouraged him to make vegan scones, which have vegan butters and creamers.
While it is not a regular item, Lawson said sometimes he makes a dozen vegan scones in addition to the regular scones.
During this time of year, most of the business happens on the weekend where Lawson said he can easily spend 10 hours baking on Sundays.
Doing that much work enables him to be ready for Monday, Lawson said.
On weekends, he estimates he makes four dozen muffins, three dozen scones, and 36 loaves of French bread.
Additionally, Lawson said lunchtime on holidays are another time when there is a great demand for baked goods.
Paperback Café, like many Old Saybrook businesses, does exceptionally well during the summertime.
On a summer weekday, Lawson said he has made as many as three dozen scones only to discover on some mornings that the scones were sold out at 9:30 only two and a half hours after the restaurant opened.
“Baking can be tiring, it leaves a lot of room to be as jam packed as you want, sometimes I am working on 15 different things,” Lawson noted.
Lawson admitted he gets a lot of down time later in the shift since only four trays of baked goods can go in the oven simultaneously and they take 30 minutes to bake.
While the restaurant has a take-out counter, Lawson said much of the baked goods are purchased by those in the dining room.
For Lawson, a love in cooking is nothing new.
“I have always been interested in cooking, I checked on several schools and at Johnson and Wales, the whole pastry department caught my eye,” Lawson said.
While Lawson was enrolled there, he worked a two month internship at a bakery where he began making muffins and scones and discovered his love for baked goods.
Lawson recently earned an Associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry at Johnson and Wales.
Some of the recipes for these delicious baked goods that hungry Paperback Café customers enjoy come from a book in the restaurant’s kitchen, Lawson admitted, while others came from a college book during his time at Johnson and Wales.
“There are certain things I have perfected in my mind when working with flour and I mix to change how cakey or dense the products are, there is a lot of experimentation,” Lawson said.
Lawson admits he loves to sample his creations and has a fondness toward cinnamon butter muffins.
When asked what he likes most about working at Paperback Café, a job he started in June, he said, “I like everyone I work with and I like the team.”
One of the worst things about the job for Lawson, however, is lack of interaction with customers since he spends much of his day in the kitchen.
For Lawson, many of his previous jobs have involved one-on-one interaction with customers such as working as a bellboy, front office clerk, and being a paraprofessional at Goodwin Elementary School.
Lawson is a nine-year resident of Old Saybrook, the same hometown as his family.
Paperback Café is located at 210 Main Street and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.