Most Wacoans know Nancy from her years of leadership at Rapoport Academy. She's well known in town for her philanthropy and big heart, giving back to the city where she and her husband, Bob, raised their two girls.
But you wouldn't know she was a woman of such influence just by looking at her. You'll often find Nancy in her overalls. She loves the outdoors and spends a lot of her "thinking time" in the garden. Not only does she come away inspired during those times but also has "something to show for it."
Give her a wave when you see her working in her garden plot to the side of her most-beloved bakery, Lula Jane's, on Elm Street (opening Winter 2012).
What makes Lula Jane's such a unique bakery for Waco?
It's a gathering point. Everything is geared toward how you collect people, how you attract them and encourage them to stay. There's no drive-thru window. It's about gathering and getting to know each other and appreciating the differences among us.
We're also building from scratch - from the ground up. We want to go as "green" as possible. I'm a reduce-reuse-recycle person and I hope to get most of my products and ingredients locally.
Why build your bakery in East Waco?
My husband and I are very much committed to, believe in and enjoy the space in East Waco. I've been there for almost 16 years. It's become part of who I am and the people are so genuine and incredible. We've also bought some other pieces of land there, and I spend lots of days and weekends tending my pieces so children can have play areas on green space. It's just another way of giving back to the community that has so nurtured who we are as a family.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My amazing husband of 40 years. It's possible to still like each other [after 40 years], but it's hard work. We've loved every minute of it, though, and we highly recommend it. You don't ever give up in marriage. It's like waves of the ocean. You continue to stay in that boat because the highs are worth it and the lows are when you really learn who each other is.
Why is food such a memorable experience in your childhood?
The food itself was part of communing time when everyone would come together to enjoy the food. It wasn't always that the food was so outstanding. The food and the company of that food and the gathering was what made it a rich experience.
Plus the smells in the kitchen!
I'm a long-time mincemeat pie lover and when the pie cooks, the spices are just phenomenal. It just wafts through the air and your mouth waters all the way through dinner so you can get to the pie.
Remembering those times was filling you with love as well as filling you with food.
What is your secret to a successful bakery?
All my selections have to meet a certain criteria: after you finish eating and go back home, would you literally walk a mile to come eat it again?
If the answer is "no," I either have to refine the recipe or ditch it. It's got to be really great food, or we won't keep it on the menu.
What should visitors know about Downtown Waco?
The downtown area is evolving, morphing. It used to be so "sleepy" with empty buildings and parking spaces galore. If you find it difficult to locate a parking space, that's a great sign of progress! Give the downtown merchants a try - visit their shops and eateries - you'll be so pleasantly surprised at the offerings.