Meet Kandie Kingery, the Glorieta, New Mexico-based owner of Bite Me Bakery. Kandie’s passion for all things food is clear, both through her day job as a restaurant manager and through the pretzels, bagels, and sweet treats she makes and sells via her cottage bakery. Get to know Kandie and Bite Me Bakery below.
What did you do before starting Bite Me Bakery?
“This started off as a side hustle, but it’s very quickly growing into a full-time job,” Kandie said. “I’ve been the manager of our local Dairy Queen for 13 years, and I’m really good friends with the owner. When I moved here 20 years ago, one thing that I thought was missing was a donut and coffee place — somewhere to get breakfast early in the morning. There’s really only the gas stations that serve breakfast burritos here. I always thought that was an opportunity, but I didn’t take the leap to start anything until much later.”
“We have 1,500 firefighters in town right now due to the massive wildfires, and we’re only feeding about 20 percent of them right now. They have caterers in their fire camps but it’s not the best food — I’m really just trying to send them better food. We only have 800 residents living in this town, so right now there are more firefighters than residents. It’s clear that they love it, and that the residents of our town were looking for better options too. I’ve been selling on Saturdays and I sell out every weekend. The farmers market sells out too,” Kandie said.
What is your business' origin story?
“I always thought that there was a business opportunity with a vending spot that was close to the interstate. People here leave between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. to get to work, but there were no options to get coffee or breakfast before work,” Kandie said.
“New Mexico had really strict cottage food laws until 2021, but now it’s a lot easier, so I’ve taken advantage of it. It was really easy to get started — I just had to get licensed,” Kandie said.
“The community has been very supportive and is always looking for me. If I’m not out vending on Saturdays, they ask people where I am.”
The town’s leadership has taken notice of Bite Me Bakery, too.
“I spoke with the mayor one day and he told me that people were upset because I was able to take donations to the fire camp because I’m a licensed business. A lot of people want to help, but because they’re not inspected, they can’t,” Kandie said. “The mayor has been talking about my business and spreading the word. He’s really proud of me and has heard nothing but good things. And, of course, he loves to buy my donuts.”
In fulfilling food donations for firefighters, Kandie has found a creative outlet. “I try to take the firefighters a variety of things, so I’m always switching things up. I started with brioche donuts stuffed with cheese and green or red chile. I’ve taken bagels, cinnamon rolls, and today I’m taking 200 spiced carrot cakes.”
“The fire crews have two shifts, so I try to stagger my deliveries so that everyone gets different treats. If I don’t have time to cook for some reason, I purchase from a local restaurant, so I can support them too. I’ve also been able to donate Dilly Bars from my Dairy Queen.”
As for the future of Bite Me Bakery, Kandie plans on going mobile.
“It’s only been six months since I started, but I hope to turn this into a food truck someday. A friend sold me a camper that I’d like to use as an event trailer, so I’m trying to take steps in that direction.”
How would you describe your products in one sentence?
“I make scratch-made, tasty treats.”
Kandie explains: “I don’t use boxed mixes or anything pre-made. Everything — from the bagels to donuts to cinnamon rolls to churros — is handmade, a labor of love. I think that’s unique. This is my growing small business, so I try to do things the right way.”
“I’m still curating my menu, figuring out what the locals want. Bagels are huge sellers, as are cinnamon rolls, local honey, granola — I’ve sold out of my granola so many times. People love the sweet and healthy mix.”
“I try to change up my menu a little bit with the seasons. I have big cookies, cupcakes, cakes in a jar that people really like, and I can change them up with the seasons or holidays so they’re not buying the same thing every week. This week, for example, we’re doing lemon bars because they’re so summery.”
What's your favorite way to enjoy your products?
“When I started baking, I started out with scones. I remember growing up in Washington state, my mom would buy scones at the fairs by the dozen. Those were my inspiration, so I tried to recreate them and really perfected my recipe,” Kandie said.
“They weren’t huge sellers here, so I don’t make them as much, but they’re my favorite just out of the oven with jam.”
What's the best thing about this job?
“I love to bake, and I love to see people come and just be impressed with what I create,” Kandie said.
“It’s not about the attention for me, it’s that I made something with my own two hands that people love.”
In addition to making her customers’ days sweeter, Kandie enjoys giving back through her business.
“I’ve always been a very giving person. I like to take care of people, and my Adopt-a-Hero program is my way of giving back. Glorieta would have been wiped out without them, with 400,000 acres of fires. The firefighters are working in shifts now for a few weeks at a time, and this is my way of giving back to them and the community.”
What's your best piece of advice to share with food entrepreneurs who are getting started?
“Just do it,” Kandie said.
“Make sure that you first understand the cottage food laws and that you’ve got everything you need in place to operate legally. It’s scary at first — I’ve even been on the fence about leaving my stable income at my job. It’s a scary thing to take that leap,” Kandie said. “But if you’re in a community like I am where they fully support you, take the leap. The only thing that’s going to happen is that you might close and have a surplus of equipment, which you could always sell. You’re not going to be a failure unless you don’t try.”
What about the future of your business are you most looking forward to?
“My goal right now is to get to the level of having a food truck. I’m working and planning for a lot of events right now — we were accepted to sell at the New Mexico Beer Fest, which has 7,000 attendees. I’ll be at the lavender festival, the Pirate and Viking Summer Bash — I’ll be doing everything from tiny events in a tent with 500 visitors, to multiples of 7-10,000 visitors.
On the charitable side of her business, Kandie hopes to expand her offerings to volunteer firefighters, ambulance drivers, hospital workers, teachers, and others in her community. “I just don’t think that they get thanked enough.”
“I can’t explain just how much I appreciate the support of everyone with Adopt-a-Hero. I’ve received donations from across the country, from as far away as Vermont,” Kandie said.
“We have firefighters who’ve come from across the country here in New Mexico, and people are wanting to support them. These people are so appreciative of our community taking care of them. My love language is feeding people. I’ve been floating around in my life a lot and now, doing this, I feel like this is what I’ve been meant to do.”
“It’s been pretty surreal,” Kandie said. “My heart is full — that was what my goal was in starting the program. I’m getting to make a difference in their lives, to help them feel a little bit like they’re at home, that they’re welcomed, and that they’re getting a home-cooked meal. They say it helps them make it through their days.”