Entrepreneur Spotlight

First Rung’s first success is a sweet success!

Amber DiCostanzo harbored the dream of owning her own cafe and bakery for years. No newcomer to breads, pastries or desserts, Amber’s restaurant experience spans decades and extends from New England to North Carolina. But her abundance of skill and formal culinary education was offset by an equal helping of fear. Taking that first big step of opening a business of her own seemed well out of reach. When the Spouter fire (December, 2019) sadly destroyed that iconic restaurant and bakery where Amber created her savory and sweet delights, the hope rising out of the ashes was the renewed idea of bringing a new bakery to Beaufort. The impact of the pandemic made the dream more elusive, but it never died.

Fast forward through a long season of highs and lows. Securing funding wasn’t the only hurdle. There was market research, hunting for a location, tapping mentors, collecting advice, negotiating equipment, navigating codes, permitting, and inspections, squeezed into days off, all the while trying to silence the internal and external voices of doubt.

“First Rung not only provided key funding for my capital needs, but their consistent support and steady approach empowered me to see myself not only as a baker but as a business owner. They didn’t do it for me, but they stood by me so that I had the confidence to make my dream a reality.”

On a spectacular day in December, 2021, with crowds lining Front Street in anticipation of the Beaufort Christmas Parade, and local residents and visitors alike pouring into town for the annual flotilla later that evening, Marmalade Cafe and Bakery opened its doors at 513 Front Street in a beautifully renovated historic building. The well-worn wood floors gleamed, the holiday decorations sparkled, and the pastry cases were filled to overflowing to the delight of the long line of smiling customers.

But nothing glowed brighter than Amber’s face knowing that her dream was now a reality, and that Marmalade Cafe and Bakery, named in honor of her grandfather’s favorite treat, was open for business – her business! First Rung’s initial launch is definitely a sweet success.

For more about Marmalade Cafe and Bakery, find them on Facebook.