NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 25, 2011

Pralines, PI Roasters changing hands

Port businesses changing hands

NEWBURYPORT — Their cupcakes were made famous last summer when the hit Food Network show "Cupcake Wars" considered showcasing their sweets for its September episode. But despite selling more than10,000 cupcakes in the wake of all that media attention, Ron and Rhonda Weisheit of Pralines Bakery in downtown Newburyport are calling it quits.

They're not the only high-profile business changing hands in the middle of an otherwise cold and sleepy winter. The waterside coffee spot Plum Island Coffee Roasters is also changing hands, owners Joyce Coady and Samantha Stephen said. Even though both business owners are leaving their respective businesses in the hands of new owners, the two moves represent a notable shift in Port's vibrant, but personalized, downtown coffee scene.

Lulled by the promise of fulfilling a lifelong dream of opening their own restaurant in chef Ron's native Florida, the duo that made Pralines a household name announced this week they are taking their family to Boca Raton and will wrap things up at the bakery at the end of this week.

"After eight wonderful years in downtown Newburyport, we have decided to pursue the opening of a restaurant in Boca Raton, Fla.," they wrote to patrons. "The sudden sale of the business came upon us with a shock."

Their news will likely shock their many regular customers, as well, who have grown attached to the pies, cakes, tarts, cookies and cupcakes the couple served from their small corner shop on Liberty Street, Rhonda Weisheit said. But it wasn't all bad news delivered by the Weisheits this week. Along with their goodbye came news that they plan to leave all their secret recipes behind for new owner Lee Ann Coughlin, a former cake decorator and baker turned accountant who is thrilled to return to the kitchen.

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