LINVILLE — At Simply Cinful Cafe, former high school sweethearts Tracey and Robert Wilson are sharing some of their sweetness with the community with their freshly baked cinnamon rolls, made from scratch from a recipe that has been passed down through Tracey’s family for generations.
Grandpa Jack, as Tracey affectionately remembers him, was the first person she remembers to make her a cinnamon roll when she was a little girl. Having perfected his culinary skills by working as a head chef at a country club, Grandpa Jack’s signature recipe was a delicious and aromatic pecan cinnamon roll that he used to make by the ovenful.
Tracey now not only prepares and bakes her grandpa’s signature recipe by hand, but she has gone on to expand her selection with her own unique and flavorful creations, including Simply Cinful Maple Bacon, French Connection, Orange Cinnaberry, Cinnana and Cafe Cinnaspresso, in addition to Grandpa Jack’s Pecan Rolls.
“Since last year I have been changing and tweaking my recipe, up until this point that I’m thinking that all of the other rolls (like the pumpkin spice, eggnog and margarita rolls) were practice. I’ve tweaked my recipe to where I think it’s pretty close to perfect,” Tracey said.
This point of perfection, however, has been a long time coming. While Simply Cinful Cafe officially opened on May 17, Tracey had been working on turning her family recipe into a full-time business over the duration of the last year.
Like many people, Tracey was laid off from work due to the pandemic. Despite losing her bartending job, she took advantage of the extra time afforded to her by the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders and began going through a box of old things that belonged to her father. Among the collection of old record albums was also her grandpa’s cinnamon roll recipe, which was more than 70 years old.
“The recipe was a little bit different, but I amped it up for today’s times,” Tracey said.
The rediscovery of the recipe spurred Tracey to begin a home baking business, in which she began experimenting and infusing flavors like maple extract into her dough and topping her oven-fresh rolls with cream cheese frosting and even candied bacon, among a variety of other garnishes. The rolls became so popular among her clientele that opening a storefront was a natural progression for her business.
“Honestly, there are so many people, among my customers and residents in Land Harbor, that are excited for us to open,” Tracey said.
In addition to serving signature cinnamon rolls, Simply Cinful Cafe will also be appeasing every palate it can, with a variety of ice cream and coffee options. In the future, the couple is also planning on expanding their menu to include sandwiches and wraps to service the lunch crowd.
Between the cinnamon rolls and ice cream, the couple’s flavorful delicacies are just one way that they are spreading a little sweetness across the county. After all, Tracey and Robert, who have been married for the past six years, were high school sweethearts. The couple reunited in their hometown of Tampa Bay 10 years ago and have been back and forth between Florida and the High Country during that time before settling in Linville Land Harbor full-time in 2017.
“I went into the military long before social media and cell phones. When you go all over the world, you lose touch with people,” Robert said.
“We were high school sweethearts, but then when went separate ways and all that. We’ve been back together for 10 years,” Tracey said. “It’s made the whole 10 years come full circle to have this place here.”
Simply Cinful Cafe’s temporary hours are currently from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bakery can be contacted by calling (828) 742-1521. For updates on the business’s hours and offerings, follow Simply Cinnamon on social media. Simply Cinful Cafe also offers gluten-free, sugar-free and eggless options.