The Plump Peacock
Bakery & Cafe Owner Talks Early Days of Popular Venue
Writer: Shannon Siders
Photography: Bee Buck Photography
Liz Wingfield’s Plump Peacock Bakery & Cafe has been Middletown’s best-kept secret over the last several years, and the popular eatery has emerged as a gem in Louisville’s vibrant culinary scene.
The cafe opened at its current storefront in February 2014 and offers an American twist on European cuisine with the atmosphere to match.
“It’s very calm, quiet and comfortable, a homey atmosphere,” Wingfield says. “But it has unique things about it. I’ve watched people come in from the parking lot, and when they come in, the scent hits them, the atmosphere hits them, and they’re a completely different person. Their whole entire attitude changes when they get through the threshold.”
Limited to breakfast and lunch service Tuesday through Sunday, the cafe also offers to-go pastry and bakery items and catering. Located at 11601 Main Street in Middletown, the eatery shares a building with retail stores and has an outdoor patio area perfect for a relaxing coffee or meal when the weather is nice.
Upon meeting Wingfield, it is apparent she has a true passion for her work, so it’s surprising to find out food service is a fairly new venture for her. When she turned 38 years old, Wingfield decided she wanted to break away from her career working in landscaping, construction, horticulture and in-ground pool installation.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design but had struggled to find a job in that field. As she thought about the next steps in her life, she remembered some words of wisdom from her dad.
“My dad always told me to do what your passion is in life,” Wingfield says. “It took me a good three years to figure this out, but I was standing in my backyard and it hit me. I really love to feed people. I love to give them a space where they can come in, be comfortable, sit and enjoy everything.”
Wingfield started her venture into food service by selling baked goods at local farmers markets. Satisfied customers always wanted to know where her storefront was, so she began to seriously think about opening a store space. A successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $30,000 was quickly followed by disappointment when the plans for the chosen space fell through.
“I made a wrong turn and found this place,” says Wingfield of the space Plump Peacock has settled into. “I came in through the front door, and hanging in the door was a stained glass peacock that I could see in the dark room. It was like a sign.”
Wingfield had been talking with her sister about opening a restaurant, when it came to her.
“The universe slapped me on the back of the head and said, ‘Plump Peacock!’” Wingfield says. “My sister said she’d eat there because she knew she’d be fed and in an elegant way.”
There are now peacock fixtures in every room, adding to the quaint, unique European bakery and cafe feel. Wingfield even designed the larger-than-life mint julep cup that sits outside the eatery, as part of the 2015 Gallopalooza festivities.
On a recent visit to Plump Peacock, the cafe was buzzing with customers enjoying a late breakfast, and Wingfield and her staff were hard at work decorating cakes for their display. The patio was empty on the chilly Friday morning, but the seating area was full of happy customers, and the staff seemed genuinely happy to be there as well.
Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, Wingfield is happy overall with how things have gone for Plump Peacock and is happy to have developed a staff that feels more like family.
“We’ve had slow growth, which is what I really loved,” Wingfield says. “Every issue that came up, we would immediately address it and smooth it in to slowly get all the wrinkles out. I know we probably still have some wrinkles, but we try to fix them as we go.”
Two of the members of her small team have been with the cafe since the beginning, and Wingfield strives to keep everyone involved and on the same page, facilitating discussion to aid in the creative process of perfecting their already delectable menu.
“I like that we have a family atmosphere,” says pastry chef Megan Randell. “You don’t feel there’s a delineation between employee and boss. You feel free to say your opinion and that your opinion is heard and listened to. Liz understands the value of each of her employees and lets them shine in their own way. She understands everyone brings something different to the table and brings their best forward.”
Plump Peacock maintains a fairly simple menu, with occasional tweaks to the offerings based on customer or staff requests.
“People really love what we have on our menu, so we don’t want to change it too much,” says Wingfield, noting some signature items will never be removed. “If we do get rid of something, we’ll add something else.”
Wingfield and her staff will even make custom pastry orders from anywhere in the world if customers can provide a recipe.
The maple bacon muffin is one of the cafe’s signature items, and its popularity stems from the days of Wingfield peddling goods at the farmers market. She originally came up with the idea for the muffin to catch the eye of male customers, but it quickly became a favorite across the board. Customers can even grab some to go from the bakery.
Other favorites from the cafe menu include the chicken salad, bacon marmalade grilled cheese and tomato basil soup, as well as hearty breakfast plates. No matter what the dish, Wingfield always uses the finest ingredients and places an emphasis on freshness.
With full-service catering options, Wingfield and her staff can cook on site or offer off-site pickup. She recently made beef tenderloin and chicken kebabs for one wedding and a guitar cake for the groom of another wedding that was a huge hit with guests.
“We’ve done plenty of bridal and baby showers, as well as other events,” Wingfield says. “I custom-tailor everything to the client. If you want something off our menu, I can make it for you, but I want it to be something really special for you.”
Plump Peacock also offers Derby catering options, in the form of boxed lunches, mint julep cakes, derby pies, bourbon brownies, bourbon pecan pie and other themed items.
The cafe also donates to various veterans organizations, a cause special to Wingfield because her husband had a 27-year stint in the army and currently works as a National Service Officer for the VA.
Wingfield is happy with where she is with Plump Peacock and is in no rush to make changes.
“The universe is in control of this and is letting me do as much as possible,” she says. “I’d like to expand it out to do dinner but maybe in a couple years when we really get a feel for everything.”
Until then, hungry East End residents can visit Plump Peacock Bakery & Cafe from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday. For more information, including a full menu, visit plumppeacockbakeryandcafe.com.