GTPulse: Super Secret Cinnamon Rolls

New underground dessert plug in Traverse City sells contactless sweets through Instagram.

Do you still get excited about receiving packages? With so many of our goods deliverable now, receiving a package in the mail has become commonplace. Gone are the days where something came in the mail that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. Instead of new jeans or shoes, I await multivitamins and refills of pens and notebooks. It’s less than exhilarating. However a few Fridays ago as I was dragging my heavy feet up to my front porch, I remembered what it was like to get excited over receiving a package. Sitting at my door was a tin of Ponyboy Bake Drop apple cinnamon rolls and I was flooded with all the old school excitement that receiving a package used to bring.

I quickly brought them inside. Nine rolls were neatly arranged in rows of three, gazing up at me through a clear lid tied with red string. A photo of lemons in Instanbul was threaded through with my name and a ‘Thank You!’ written in sharpie on the back. I fawned over the aesthetics for only a moment before tearing into the tin and devouring one, two, and then three rolls. Rich, brown sugar-sweetened cinnamon swirled through flaky, buttery layers studded with bits of green apple. Yum.

Since the cinnamon rolls, I’ve had chocolate cake, trail cookies, and homemade Oreos all dropped off at my door. Still somewhat of an underground operation, receiving treats from Ponyboy Bake Drop feels like a cross between getting a letter from a pen pal and a plate of cookies from a neighbor. The thing is though, is that I would know a neighbor or a pen pal 10 times better than I know the faces behind the hypnotic cinnamon rolls. In fact, the only connection I have to these confectioners is through the Instagram account that I ordered the sweets from, @Ponyboybakedrop. So who are these super-secret cinnamon roll purveyors?

Alicia Manson and Lynsey Egli are life and business partners who previously ran Gold Baby Biscuits in Suttons Bay. Tall, golden biscuits were both the star of the show and the backdrop for a rotating selection of sandwiches. The little shop was located next to Mundo’s Coffee and was just around a year old before the pandemic forced them to shut their doors.

“We closed our Suttons Bay carry-out restaurant, Gold Baby, temporarily in March of this year due to COVID-19, and then permanently in May. Once the lockdown lessened and we got our footing again, we knew we wanted to offer food again, but in a way that was very safe for both the customers and us,” Alicia said.

Gold Baby was an ode to their love of baking and Southern food. They knew they wanted to keep providing delicious baked goods in a way that made sense for a new world. Lyndsey has worked both Front Of House and Back Of House in restaurants, catering companies, and inns all across the country. Alicia has worked primarily in the arts as a teacher, arts administrator, and visual artist herself. Through Lyndsey’s hospitality industry work and Alicia’s self-taught cooking and baking skills, the pair shine at making good food for others. With nothing but an Instagram account, phone number, and Venmo, Ponyboy Bake Drop was born.

“Once the lockdown lessened and we got our footing again, we knew we wanted to offer food again, but in a way that was very safe for both the customers and us. We decided that using Michigan Cottage Food Law was a good first step, so we created Ponyboy based on that, and added on the perk of free, contactless delivery to Traverse City.”

It all starts when a weekly special gets posted on their Instagram page. If it’s a treat you covet, you simply text the number provided on their page with your name, address, order, and date you want it dropped off. They’ll confirm your order once you pay through Venmo. Voila! Magic, sparkly, baked treats will appear at your door. The whole deal usually costs $25 which includes delivery. And if you’re further out than Traverse City, don’t cry yet. Lyndsey and Alicia are willing to travel somewhat outside delivery limits for a fee.

“Yeah, within reason. We’re still figuring out what is technically TC and what isn’t, so that has been weird and fun, in an annoying way. We also often meet people from Suttons or wherever at the arts center parking lot on M-22 and Cherry Bend, and that has been working well.”

Upside down pear gingerbread cake, pumpkin espresso sandwich cookies and peach hand pies have all been some of the past offerings thus far, and they’re open to making your personal favorites again if you ask. For those of you who have more of a salt tooth than a sweet, consider checking out some of the empanadas they’re slinging over at 45 North Vineyard & Winery in Lake Leelanau. Also, be on the lookout for where they’ll put down stakes of their own next.

“We are working toward opening an all-vegetarian drive-thru and take-out restaurant using as much locally-sourced stuff as we possibly can. We would love to stay in Traverse City to realize this project, but we are considering relocating if necessary.”

Although they’re readying a death blow for fast food windows everywhere in Traverse City, for now, they’re baking and delivering sweet treats that have become my not-so-secret indulgence amid the madness. My favorite thing so far has been these chewy, buttery, perfect trail cookies. Their favorite part so far has been getting back at it in the kitchen and exploring new terrain together.

“We are getting to see so many parts of this town that we hadn’t previously. It’s also just so good to be working again.”


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Categories: GTPulse