Tennessee bakery with sweet staff brings smiles to community

PARIS, Tenn. (WZTV) - If you know nothing about a bakery business and suddenly open a huge bakery that's double the normal size and hire only people who require extra supervision: That's a recipe that includes a very special ingredient, faith.

Thirty-two special needs adults run Sweet Jordan's Bakery and Cafe in Paris, Tennessee.

Sweet Jordan himself works at the register, but that's not his job.

"I'm the boss around here and I have to keep everybody in line," said Jordan St. John. "Sometimes I'm the boss. I am also the Sheriff and the County Commissioner."

Jordan's parents, Brad and Tommie St. John, opened the bakery just 17 months ago. A middle-aged couple with no experience in retail, but lots of experience with faith.

"I don't do anything halfway, so we decided. We are believers in Christ and treat people the way we want to be treated. So many families are being changed because of this place," said Tommie St. John.

A display of desserts and smiles can be seen on a visit to Sweet Jordan's.

There's Tammy Hall, the blind cookie maker. Everyone else uses a scale to weigh the chocolate chip cookies, but Tammy rolls a perfect 1 oz. ball by feel. She's never wrong.

The bakery is full of people who were sitting at home doing nothing, now living the sweet life.

"There's a really nothing for them to do after high school. We wanted to provide an opportunity," said St. John.

Small family run bakeries aren't exactly on trend right now. It's a tough business to make profitable, but Sweet Jordan's is enjoying sweet success.

The bakery is already expanding with a brand new coffee house.

They could easily hire another dozen workers. Customers love the bakery, and the workers love their customers.

"I love them with all my heart," Jordan said.

Sweet Jordan's is a for-profit business. Owners said there was too much red tape for the nonprofit route. Even though people can't make tax deductible donations, they're giving to the bakery anyway.

"Our community has been so supportive and that wall of thanks represents $80,000 in cash donations, and it blows us away. We have wept so many times out of joy," said Brad St. John.

There may not be many job opportunities for special needs adults in a town of 10,000 people. But there's enough heart in Paris to more than support this business.

And who can resist sweets, or the even sweeter staff?

"I say it’s the happiest place in Paris," said Tommie St. John. " I say if you are having a bad day, it is turned completely upside down."

If visiting Paris, the bakery is a sweet spot you don't want to miss.

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