After losing her husband, the Brunswick woman’s baking turned from therapeutic to a thriving business

Christy Freeman (left) poses with her fiance Zeb Dodge and daughter Hannah in their kitchen on July 7, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Four-layer lemon raspberry cake. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Tiramisu.

Not too long ago, Midcoast residents in search of a late-night treat might have been limited to a candy bar from a vending machine or maybe some ice cream from a gas station. But in the past two years, police officers, college students and other nocturnal sugar freaks have turned Kristie’s Creations from a side hustle into a bustling 24-hour family bakery on Brunswick’s otherwise quiet Hennessey Avenue.

“We bake every day, two shifts a day,” said owner Christy Freeman. “That’s all we do. We will be working all night depending on what we have for orders. Friday night we usually don’t go to bed.”

Pumpkin muffins. Blondes with white chocolate. Jumbo citrus twists.

Freeman always loved to bake growing up. While other kids watched Saturday morning cartoons, she preferred PBS cooking shows.

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

Yet after a heart attack killed Freeman Russell’s husband in 2017, baking became more than a hobby for the now single mother of a teenage daughter: it was an emotional release.

“I thought my life was over,” she recalled. “But I had to get a job, do something to support myself and my daughter. I started baking the sides. It became my therapy – just a reason to keep going and keep moving.”

Freeman often shares her creations with her fellow nurses at Mid Coast Hospital. She rejected their offers to start a business, but began to distract herself during restless nights by researching and designing an industrial kitchen.

Then the pandemic hit, and Freeman found himself in the middle of an ocean of laid-off Americans. Needing some way to make money, she decided to devote more time to Kristie’s Creations, which until then had been a small side project.

“We started off with a bake sale just to let people know we were here,” Freeman said. “The bake sale just never ended.”

A selection of treats and drinks await purchase at the Kristie’s Creations bakery stand on July 7, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Sweets with dark chocolate and cherries. Quiche with ham and cheddar. Meatballs.

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

Dodge, Freeman’s former childhood sweetheart, reconnected with her in 2019. When he also lost his job due to the pandemic, he joined his now-fiancé in the kitchen for marathon baking sessions that regularly lasted until 6 a.m.

“This is our life now,” he said.

In addition to taking the lead on the bakery’s wildly popular comfort-food dinners, which he aims to whip up once a week, Dodge was responsible for the most unique element of the business: his unmanned 24-hour bakery stand, where customers can pay for an assortment of treats with Venmo, PayPal or, thanks to a locked box, cash or check.

“I called Christy and said, ‘Why don’t we do a bakery stand instead of a farm stand?’” Dodge said. “It just went from there.”

20-30 customers visit the bakery stand each week, which accounts for about half of Kristie’s Creation’s business, according to Freeman. Many late-night workers, including taxi drivers and policemen, stop to buy sweets, as do a growing number of students.

“Word spread fast at Bowdoin,” said Bowdoin College shuttle driver Angela Keating, who learned about the bakery from her colleague Jennifer Jacobs. “Before you know it, I’m taking kids there every night.”

It’s no mystery why students flock to Kristie’s, Keating said.

“The cupcakes are just divine,” she said. “I wish I’d never found it because it’s really hard to walk past.”

Christy Freeman (left) stands with her daughter Hannah and her fiance Zeb Dodge by their 24-hour bakery on July 7, 2022. John Terhune / The Times Record

Million dollar bullion. Frozen bananas. Cannoli.

Hannah Freeman, a college student, cake decorator and occasional taste tester, said she’s happy to see her mother’s passion grow into a Brunswick staple.

“Our dream growing up was to have the bakery on the corner,” she said. “Instead, we somehow got here.”

Although the business has made some recent improvements, including two cameras to prevent theft from the bakery counter’s coolers, Freeman said she’s happy with Kristie’s Creations as it is. After experiencing personal tragedy and professional hardship, bringing a little sweetness to the world more than deserves late nights in the kitchen.

“I love watching the kids get on their bikes,” she said. “I love being that neighborhood place where grandmas take their kids to treat them. I spent four years just depressed and sad. I just want to make people happy.”

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