A tradition in taste: The Woodmoor Pastry Shop

WORLD ON A PLATE — For 48 years they have won over the hearts and stomachs of many Silver Spring residents. Boasting a menu that could make anyone’s mouth water, the Woodmoor Pastry Shop continues to deliver delicious recipes at a price that won’t break the bank.

Owner JoAnna Gray has been turning out homemade donuts, pies, cookies and dinner rolls in the Woodmoor shopping center at University Blvd. and Colesville Road since her family took over the bakery. The Gray family had previously owned a bakery in Cumberland, Md., but they have called the Woodmoor Pastry Shop home ever since moving to the Silver Spring area.

The Gray family kept the standard of low prices, individually made items and family-targeted merchandise from the previous bakery but have changed many things throughout the years.

All products at the Pastry Shop are have zero trans fats — by rule of Montgomery County — which is reassuring for dieters, but you’d never know it with the decadent sweets the shop offers.

In addition to reshaping some of their recipes, Gray says that seeing other bakeries go out of business and fewer people going into the baking trade gives her pause.

“There used to be many bakeries in the area, and now I think there are only a few,” Gray said. “It’s kind of sad to see your friends going out of business.”

Gray credits this trend with the competition of supermarket bakeries and the creation of more specialty shops. Gray also says that she finds more people pursuing “white collar work,” and not wanting to work the long hours, weekends and sometimes holidays required of a baker.

Woodmoor Pastry Shop

Maria and Caitlin work at the Woodmoor Pastry Shop with JoAnna Gray, who has helped run her family's store since 1962.

Despite these changes and the fluctuation of the economy, the Woodmoor Pastry Shop has been lucky enough to maintain a steady flow of business.

“We’ve always had a very loyal following,” she said. Gray says the holidays; the population growth in the area and the consistency of customer satisfaction has helped her bakery remain one of the survivors over the years.

Another reason the Woodmoor Pastry Shop has remained so successful is its involvement in the community. Undoubtedly a staple among neighbors, Woodmoor consistently supports Blair and Northwood High Schools, as well as the Thunderbolts baseball team by providing donuts at their
games.

Gray’s shop also recently partnered in a 3K walk and run for ovarian cancer along with other charities they consistently support.

Gray says the all-year round favorites of the pastry shop include mini chocolate éclairs, cupcakes, donuts, danishes and their signature Parker House rolls.

The pastries truly exude the look of homemade delight with no one looking like the other. They demonstrate the careful precision that Gray and her fellow bakers put into each item on the Woodmoor menu.

“I’ve always been a chocolate donut fan,” Gray proudly admits. “I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow that.”

The pastry shop has also catered their menu to the more health conscious customers with items such as bruschetta, mini pizzas, and apple brown betty’s.

Jennifer Burns worked at the Woodmoor Pastry Shop at age 14 for a little less than two years. She says the experience was unparalleled because in working for Gray she felt that she was a part of a Woodmoor tradition.

“Its such a legacy, people would come in that you knew were there every week or you knew their families, or people would stop in and say, ‘I haven’t been there in many years, but my family came here all the time, I grew up on this,'” Burns said.

Burns worked a few nights and mostly weekends with whom she called the other neighborhood girls. At night she would clean the back and scrape off unused icing, and even get some left over bread or pastries to take home, but on the weekends, she would prepare for chaos.

“On the weekends it was just mayhem. Everyone came in, and after all the mass times we had a huge influx of people and you saw the same people, all the neighborhood people,” Burns said.

Burns, who still lives in Woodmoor and shops at the bakery, says for a first job experience, Gray provided her with a safe and comfortable haven to enter the working world.

Woodmoor Pastry Shop

Loyal patron Lilianne, age 5, chooses a cookie.

It was a neighborhood thing, it wasn’t just some random job, I knew the people that ran it, I knew the people that worked there, and it felt safe,” she said. “I was a part of something I thought was a Woodmoor tradition.”

Despite many offers to expand the business, Gray says she prefers keeping the business small and personal.

“I like knowing my customers, they’re actually my friends. I like knowing the diversity of the people coming in and knowing that I have to have this on a certain day because so and so is coming in,” she
said.

“I think when you expand you lose a part of yourself.”

Gray says her favorite part about the bakery is getting to do what she loves every day.

“You get to make people happy, very rarely do you see an unhappy person in here,” she said. “You are a part of people’s lives, their happy occasions and occasionally the sad ones, but it’s a creative field. I like making new items on the menu and seeing other people enjoy them and buy them.”

Gray opens and closes the bakery herself almost every day and says she looks forward to the different challenge her shop presents everyday. In working with equipment, customers, finances and food, Gray says that the daily challenges and her loyal customers keep the store as exciting as it ever was.

Woodmoor Pastry Shop
10127 Colesville Rd
Silver Spring, MD 20901
301-593-7667

— by Katie Gallagher
photos by Joseph Sherrock

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