What's a mother to do when she gets laid off her job and her two teen-aged daughters can't find summer jobs?
One alternative is to pick up the kids and start a seaside business based on one thing the mom does best--baking pies.
That's the entrepreneurial adventure being explored by Lois Schultz of Mount Pleasant Township, Pa. Her restaurant, the Upper Crust, is in its second season and is still growing here on Wilmington Avenue.
"The reason I chose the pie idea was that I wanted something that was unique to Rehoboth," Schultz said. "I have always done a lot of baking at home, and people always said, after eating my home baking, 'Oh, you ought to open a small business.' "
The family had been taking vacations in Rehoboth for 15 years before Schultz became the victim of a slowdown by a welding and parts manufacturing business in Latrobe, Pa., where she had been "the one-man office force" for three years.
The decision to locate the business in Rehoboth was based in part on Schultz's impression that the beach town "wouldn't be as economically depressed as our home area was." She also said the seasonal work enabled her daughters--both of whom are in school--to participate in the endeavor.
Schultz had never been on the managerial side of business--cooking or otherwise--but she has now invested about $30,000 in her business, not to mention the 2 a.m. risings to commune with her rolling pin. She bakes an average of 35 pies every morning (on weekends, about 50 or 60) from her repertoire of apple, blueberry, peach, lemon, coconut creme, blackberry and strawberry, in addition to preparing the soups, salads and other foods for the rest of the light menu.
She uses only Eastern Shore meats, seafood and produce, including 50 to 90 pounds of blueberries each week.
The restaurant's staff has been expanded from its original workforce of daughters Cindy and Renee to include two more waitresses. Schultz refers to this, tongue in cheek, as an "internal organizational change" that took some of the workload off her shoulders.
"When we first started, I was doing most of the work myself," she said. "Right now I would say I put in about 12 hours a day."
Some of the new businesswoman's experiences have been amusing--like the times in the beginning when her daughters would pass each other on frequent trips to and from the grocery store--as well as educational. Schultz said she'd never realized "a small business had to pay as many taxes as they do."
The Upper Crust will be open again next season, Schultz said. In the meantime, she will return to Pennsylvania to work on her bachelor's degree in business administration at the University of Pittsburgh.