George Smith: Audra Gosdin: The building of a dream ...
Audra Gosdin works in her kitchen at the Abanda Bake Shop and Café. (Anniston Star photo by George Smith)
Build it and they will come . . .

ABANDA — If you’re on your way to Lafayette, Ala., on Alabama 77 out of Wadley and blink once, you’re going to miss the Abanda Bake Shop and Café.

Blink twice and you’re going to miss the entire “downtown.”

One other thing.

The “Build it and they will come” is a bit of a paraphrase from the movie Field of Dreams, but it serves nicely to introduce you to Audra Gosdin, a smallish and perky blonde who did have a dream …

The Abanda Bake Shop and Café.

She not only built her dream in the middle of a rural route, but she is, in her words:

“I’m the waitress, the cook, the bottle washer, cake decorator …” About the only thing missing is a front porch to sit on and swap the local news, perhaps embellishing it a bit now and then.

That’s in the future, according to Audra:

“This is what I wanted to do, but it was just a dream. I didn’t think I’d ever get to do this, but it’s not finished. I want a big front porch out there with rockers so people can come and sit and visit.

“During lunch, I really don’t have enough room.”

That’s no stretch. There’s one booth, two round tables, and one long table. It’s seating for 19 or 20 “if you scrooch up a bit,” she says.

In the beginning …

“I was staying home with the children (two) and they were having a fund-raiser over at the school (Wadley). My daughter Emily asked me to set up a booth. I told her I didn’t know what to put in there (the booth).

“She said ‘Do what you do, make bread.’ I went out and bought a 50-pound bag of flour, did cinnamon rolls, cakes, cookies and bread. I sold out in two hours. I was tickled to death.”

A bit of prayer was also involved in the beginning,

“I’d been praying about a job ’cause money was tight. After the fundraiser, the phone started to ring. Then it just kept on ringing. People wanted my stuff.”

The “stuff” was coming out of her home kitchen …

“I knew immediately I needed a building to do this. That’s when the Abanda Bake Shop and Café was born.”

But not overnight. There was a gestation period … while she built her bakeshop … next door to her house.

“It took over a year to build. I’d get some money and then I’d pour concrete, get some more money and buy lumber. I did a lot of the work myself. Did all the painting. Mainly I wanted it to feel like home for everybody.”

“Stuff” from older times she has moved to the café from her house is a warm greeting you probably won’t notice ’til you take a seat and start looking around.

On a wall is a picture of the late country music star Little Jimmy Dickens, who once played a date in Wedowee. There are old car tags, an old wooden Coke case, a Prince Albert (tobacco) can, her chairs (the ones not metal folders) came from a church that was updating its Sunday School classrooms.

That she wound up where she is may be in her genes. Her parents ran Bob and Myra’s Barbecue in Roanoke.

“When I finished high school I went to Opelika Tech at Opelika. Momma said ‘I don’t care what you major in, but when you get through down there you belong to me. You come here and go back to work in the family business. It’s all hands on deck.’

“It was tough. You run and run and your meals are few and far between. You don’t have an opportunity to sit down. After we closed, we cleaned up. It’s the same here.

“But this is the best thing I could be doing, being right here. Kids are not at a baby sitter and they do have to work. That’s life.”

A finish …

“I get to see people every day. I want to see people in their working clothes, people coming to eat, having fun.

“I’m just comfortable here. Everybody is.”

I know I was. And her gravy biscuit with scrambled eggs on the side (and under the gravy) is a very comfortable feeling, indeed.


George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email:

© 2013