By Lori Havener
Editor’s note, Feb. 19, 2024, at 1 p.m.: Jenny Dove’s maiden name was corrected.
Reginald Smart and his family have been part of Truckee history and the Truckee food scene since 1947 when they opened Good Fellows Grotto in downtown Truckee, followed by Smart’s Cafeteria and Dining Room in 1955. Smart’s closed in 1968, but the family continued to operate the Good Fellows Grotto, which was renamed the Wagon Train Coffee Shop. In 1978 the coffee shop was sold to Reg’s son, Brian, who continues to serve its loyal patrons today.
But Reg Smart’s family connections go beyond Good Fellows Grotto and Smart’s Cafeteria. The story continues with Jenny Dove, who lived in a small town in Wisconsin and worked in a bakery. She left to go to pastry school in Chicago, eventually making her way to Truckee and taking a job as a pastry chef for Martis Camp.
The manager hiring at Martis Camp told Dove that she needed to meet the interim pastry chef — Siobhan Smart, Brian Smart’s wife.
“She was the first person I met in Truckee outside the staff that hired me,” Dove said. “She just really took me under her wing and got me familiar with the area. Siobhan was first of the Smart family I met.”
Six years into her job as pastry chef at Martis Camp, Dove was now married to Kurt Smart, Brian’s son, had a daughter and another child on the way. One day, when she was on her way to pick up her daughter, Jenny drove down West River Street and saw a for-lease sign on a building that was to become Cornerstone Bakery.
“I immediately picked up the phone and tried to sell myself to the owner,” she said. “Owning my own bakery was always something I had in the back of my mind, and I really thought I could add something to the community.”
I asked if she consulted with the Smart family given their restaurant background.
“No, I really didn’t ask anyone’s opinion,” she said. “The ambitious entrepreneurial spirit was always in my core.”
Opened since 2019, Cornerstone Bakery has become the go-to place for home-made pastries, cakes, and sweets.
“My clientele appreciates that everything is made from scratch,” Jenny said.
She found that there was a high demand for sandwiches. And so, when the property next door became available in July 2022, Jenny and her staff jumped at the opportunity. They soon opened Cornerstone Kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch options.
“There is great symbiosis between the bakery and the kitchen. We are always trying new things in our product mix,” Jenny said.
For the morning bakery crowd, the cinnamon roll with a side of frosting and the croissants are a favorite, but any of the delicious and enticing freshly baked pastries with a cup of tea or latte can satisfy your sweet tooth. I walked away with a warm loaf of jalapeño cheddar bread and a box full of pastries for later.
If you’re looking for a delicious savory breakfast, the Cornerstone Kitchen has hearty options. The breakfast sandwiches on your choice of fresh baked bread or a croissant are favorites, as well as the challah French toast. I had the Cornerstone breakfast sandwich on sea salt focaccia, which came with a perfectly cooked-to-order egg and avocado, tomato, and an herb aioli, as well as a crunchy side of smashed potatoes, a unique nod to hash browns. Also sampled that morning was the Cornerstone croquette breakfast, once again a perfectly cooked-to-order two eggs, sprouts, avocado, pickled onion, and chive crème fraiche on top of two delicious croquettes.
The kitchen’s lunch menu has a great selection of sandwiches and salads. Whether you are choosing breakfast or lunch or just stopping in for a snack, the choices are fresh, homemade, and thoughtfully prepared.
Jenny and Siobhan are now family. While there is no overlap between Cornerstone Bakery and Kitchen and the Wagon Train, the two women still run new recipes past each other and occasionally do a catering job together.
“We are on the phone at least two times a week because someone’s run out of something, a gallon of milk or something,” said Jenny. “When you get two strong women in a kitchen together, it’s going to be chaos.”
The bakery has brought Jenny much joy and she hopes Cornerstone Bakery and Kitchen will be part of the Truckee community long into the future. Another Smart added to the history of Truckee.
~ Born and raised in the Midwest, Lori Havener has always had access to farm-fresh food. She started her own catering business in high school and has continued to immerse herself in food, cooking, and local cuisine wherever she lives. She finds the Truckee/Tahoe area to be rich in culinary gems.