If you haven’t been to St. Anne the Tart, you should know there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Rustic tarts, gorgeous pastries and hot teas are tempting treats, but it’s the vibe – the warmth and kindness that makes up the fabric of the café and bakery – that makes it a wonderful place to spend time.
Megan Smith founded the bakery at 1500 E. Fifth St. in Dayton and is our Daytonian of the Week. She explains the philosophy behind her business.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. After graduation I moved away, traveled the world several times over and landed back in Ohio just five years ago. I never had the chance to go to college, but have always had a natural knack for getting an idea from point A to Z and for telling the story of that brand, idea, initiative or mission.
Most currently I was in publishing. I had found myself writing for many national magazines while raising small babies and eventually ended up starting a luxury niche magazine, CAKE&WHISKEY, that grew to be in 11 countries and over 300+ Barnes and Noble locations nationwide. The story of that journey is something I’ll be happy to tell you over a coffee chat someday.
St. Anne the Tart opened in March. The café is so much more than just a place to get coffee. What did you set out to create when the doors opened?
Well, I should start out by saying that I have never owned a business with the intention of selling a product or service. When I was 15, I traveled to a remote village in Papua New Guinea for six weeks and there was a foundational shift in my perspective not just in life but in my approach to business.
St. Anne the Tart was an opportunity to contribute to the story of a community. How are we creating an environment for others to feel valued and seen? How are we championing others from the platform we have? How am I developing team members to go on and do amazing things in their career? What actions are we demonstrating to deepen the connectivity in our community? These aren’t just fluffy, pie-in-the-sky notions. It’s about small changes for the greater good. St. Anne the Tart exists to do our part in the cultural pilgrimage.
Why did you choose to locate in the St. Anne’s Hill historic neighborhood?
The residents of St. Anne’s Hill are dedicated to the beauty, safety, development, sustainability, and success of their neighborhood in ways I have never experienced before. Three years ago, I was looking for the spot to sink my business roots and St. Anne’s Hill was, hands down, the best choice for the brand. I feel so fortunate to be working alongside some other businesses like Gem City Catfé and Fifth Street Brewpub to draw more Daytonians to this unique hamlet of the city.
When you opened St. Anne the Tart you set up a 501-(c)(3) non-profit called “The Tart With Heart” through the Dayton Foundation. What does the non-profit do? Why was this important to you?
St. Anne the Tart, from its inception, has had a bent toward community giveback. It’s our company’s bedrock. Our 501c3 through the Dayton Foundation came about long before our doors opened in March. Over the past eight months, we have raised thousands of dollars for various charities around the city. Most recently we ran a coat drive and collected over 100 new-with-tags children’s coats for kids needing warmth this winter. Moving into 2020 we are excited to unveil some really beautiful ways of fostering connectivity and long-term impact in the area.
When you opened, you created a “Do Good” wall. Can you explain the idea behind it and the response you have had.
We certainly aren’t the inventors of the idea, but we couldn’t help but bring the concept to the hill. With the Do Good wall, we are merely a conduit for the do-gooding happening within the community…and all I can say is, it is a beautiful thing to watch. I have literally been brought to tears many times over reading the tags that people write for one another.
Every day we have between 40-60 tags, ready to be claimed by those who walk through our doors. It could be as simple as a latte for a stay-at-home-dad or $20 in goodies for the local police precinct. The Do-Good tags span a wide range; those struggling with addiction, a grad student cramming for exams, a grandma missing her grandkids, first responders, and those who have experienced a recent loss. It seems that no matter who visits us on the hill on any given day,there is likely a complete stranger wanting to give them an extra dose of goodness and acknowledgement.
If you could offer advice to the Dayton business community, what would it be?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the entrepreneurial business community in Lexington, Kentucky when the city went through a massive transformation and resurgence 10 years ago. It, in many ways, felt overnight, yet the growth has been sustainable.
One of the biggest reasons for this was the sincere, heartfelt collaborative approach businesses had with one another; the collective movement toward growth was palpable. I see glimmers of this within the Dayton business community and would love to see it go further. Collaboration over competition in all areas of industry would be incredible for our strength as a city.
What do you do for fun?
I love this question! My interests are super diverse and change pretty frequently. Fun for me is anything that allows me to do one of three things: tap into my creative side, build memories with my three boys, or deepen connections for myself and others. I have so much fun learning to play dulcimer, hosting parties, making time to be on the tennis court, taking a last-minute weekend trip to NYC, giggling late into the night with girlfriends, cleaning the bakery with the staff, and making weekday dinner with the boys. Fun is a mindset, right?
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Taco Bell, of course!! Isn’t that everyone’s guilty pleasure?
What would your perfect “Dayton date” be?
My dating life consists of lots of solo dates in the city! The perfect “Dayton date” is to pack up my watercolor set and head to my favorite Metropark-of-the-moment (it changes depending on the season) to do some painting, skip rocks at the creek and take a sunset hike. Then it’s off to Roost for dinner and a cocktail at the bar before walking down to a movie at The Neon where I usually sit in the back row and wipe my tears at the sad parts (I am a total crybaby at movies).
What does Dayton Strong mean to you?
While I stand behind the sentiment, I wish it had been embraced, hashtagged, tattooed and graffitied much sooner than in the wake of tragedies this summer.
Strength is seen most profoundly in our compassion toward others, a bent toward doing good, and a collective oneness. While I am newer to the community, I have always felt this sense of strength from our city. My hope would be that as we move forward, we don’t lose sight of it. That the rally cry of our city in the summer of 2019 would be ever present in how we move through our days, our weeks, our years and decades.