First Black-Owned Bakery In Knoxville, TN, Celebrates 25 Years

If you can describe it, this bakery can make it.

Chandra Taylor is preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mer Mer’s Bakery, a business that became the very first Black-owned bakery in Knoxville, TN, when she opened its doors in 1998.

Named after a nickname for her oldest daughter, Mercedes, Mer Mer’s is famous for its creative custom cake designs. Taylor’s signature five-flavor pound cake follows a recipe from her great-aunt and has become a best-seller.

The bakery also offers a variety of cookies, cupcakes, banana pudding, brownies, and special occasion requests.

“Everything we make at Mer Mer’s Bakery is made from scratch, with the freshest ingredients and baked in our store,” Mer Mer’s website states.

“We bake in small batches to create the best tasting sweets that you won’t get anywhere else. We are known for having the best pound cakes you will ever eat. We bake our pound cakes daily and they come in several flavors,” the bakery’s site reads.

According to Inside of Knoxville, Taylor found her passion for baking at an early age, throwing down in the kitchen with her grandmother. She was so serious about baking, she’d use her allowance to purchase baking supplies to make and sell cakes for friends and family.

When she went to college, she still had baking on her mind. She attended Pellissippi State in 1994 where she majored in Business Management so she would be ready to open her own bakery. After putting together a business plan, Taylor presented a proposal for a bakery to denim giant Levi Strauss, which was offering a bonus to its employees who presented a productive use of startup money.

Taylor’s mother worked for the company and presented her daughter’s proposal. Levi Strauss awarded Taylor and her mother $5,000. The two used the money to purchase supplies and to find a location for the bakery, which now sits at 617 N. Gay Street in Knoxville.

Mer Mer’s Bakery is preparing to recognize its 25 years of business with an anniversary celebration scheduled in November. Taylor’s parents and her two daughters, Mercedes and Chrisma, are hands-on at the bakery, creating and maintaining the physical space.

In an effort to pass on the art of baking to the community, Taylor is planning to offer cookie classes soon.

Customers can stop by the bakery Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy a cake by the slice, a quarter, half, or a whole.

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