Shoppers looking for custom furniture or gourmet doughnuts can now find both at a storefront located in the historic Manatee Central building.
The Farm House, located on the corner of Manatee Avenue East and Ninth Street East, is a home decor and boutique store that doubles as a doughnut shop. Patrons poured in during Friday’s opening day, describing it as quaint, unusual and old-fashioned – mostly, they simply referred to it as delicious.
Steven and Nancie Sheardown of SDS Designs, a local furniture designer that has been featured on the Animal Planet show “Insane Pools: Off the Deep End,” say they opened the business with a simple goal in mind.
“We want to bring good southern hospitality back to the public,” Steven said.
This is on display throughout the store: Rustic decorations adorn the walls while positive, friendly attitudes are shared by the employees. It wasn’t uncommon Friday to see a customer or long-time friend hug Nancie upon departing. “Thank you. We appreciate you,” she would tell them.
While the store features vintage pieces of home decor, furniture and jewelry, make no mistake – doughnuts are the main attraction.
With 16 specialty miniature doughnuts to choose from, customers can treat themselves to such delectable items as a Cow Pattie (chocolate icing, peanut butter drizzle with a Reese’s cup on top) or a Sweet Squealing Pig (Maple icing and bacon).
For the more adventurous, customize the doughnut-eating experience by picking from a variety of icings, toppings and drizzle – strawberry, vanilla, powder sugar and marshmallows, to name a few. The mini-doughnuts are typically sold in increments of six, with a half-dozen costing a little less than $5.
Taking the unorthodox next step from SDS Designs to doughnuts wasn’t easy to commit to at first – Nancie said neither she nor her husband have backgrounds in the doughnut industry.
“We kept tossing the doughnut idea around,” she said.
Eventually, they decided that antiques and fresh dough could be a winning combination.
“People in this atmosphere just want to sit. There’s a calming sensation, almost like it brings you back in time to to how it used to be,” Nancie said.
Customers seemed to agree. Debbie Coyne said the store had a beautiful “New York feel to it” and that the staff was helpful and friendly.
Anthony Dimauro, a vice president and branch manager of Regions Bank on Manatee Avenue, spent his morning searching for the location after receiving doughnuts from Nancie’s father via delivery.
“He wrote down the wrong name. I think he wrote Firehouse instead of Farm House,” he said.
Still, Dimauro said the doughnuts were tasty enough that he had to get more: “It’s nice to see this part of Bradenton starting to take off. Anytime you get bacon on a doughnut it’s a good thing.”
In addition to making doughnuts that possess a slight crunch on the outside before entering into a soft, warm middle, the shop also serves as a learning experience for Steven and Nancie’s daughter.
Taylor Brenes, 18, recently graduated from the Sarasota Military Academy. Instead of giving her a traditional graduation gift, Brenes’ grandfather gave her the money to buy a percentage of The Farm House so that she could learn the value of hard work and how to run a business.
“It means a lot to be part of a business. Most kids don’t get this kind of opportunity – it’s been a blessing,” she said.
Brenes said that she spent two months working with her parents to get the store ready for Friday’s opening day. During that time, she went to Atlanta to pick out antiques and vintage items, before traveling to various doughnut shops to learn how they do things.
So far, the work seems to have paid off.
“I had no idea we were going to be so busy. It’s been crazy just trying to get everything done,” Brenes said.
Brenes is attending the State College of Florida and is planning to use any profits from the business for her college education. Eventually, she hopes to transfer to either the University of Florida or the University of Tampa to major in biology with the hope of one day opening her own veterinary clinic.
The Farm House
Address: 902 Manatee Ave. E.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Phone number: 941-713-5222