Former Baylor staff member opens sweet treat food truck

The Monster Ice Cream Sandwich at Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe on August 21, 2013. Michael Bain | Lariat Photographer

By Ada Zhang
Staff Writer

For 31 years, Becky Chollett worked at the Baylor law school as the assistant dean of admissions. She said she recalls her time at Baylor with fondness, saying that her job was rewarding. However, Chollett said her life came to a crossroads a year ago when she felt God’s calling for her to do something different with her time and talent. From there, Chollett said she decided to take a leap of faith and do something she had wanted to do since her 20s—start her own business.

Months of planning and a vintage food trailer purchase later, Chollett now has her own mobile bakery, Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe, parked at 520 Franklin Ave.

Chollett did not immediately pursue her endeavors after leaving Baylor in 2012. She put her business on hold at first so she could be involved in her 10-year-old son’s life.

“I assumed presidency of the parent’s society at St. Lewis Catholic School,” Chollett said. “I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities at my child’s school. I think it’s important.”

Busy with her role in the St. Lewis Parent’s Association, Chollett did not embark on her business until summer when her son, Garrett, was on break.

Chollett said she always aspired to be an entrepreneur but felt unsure in the beginning of her strengths. She chuckled and said that she once considered opening a coffee shop.

“But then I realized I don’t know a lot about coffee,” Chollett said. “I drink Folgers.”

Lacking a sophisticated palate for coffee, Chollett explored other options.

A couple years ago, she took notice of the food trailer trend in its peak popularity and had a sudden epiphany. In the past, Chollett had thrown parties and delighted guests with her baked goods. She said she enjoyed the mobile aspect of a food trailer better than the traditional brick-and-mortar facility.

“It sets the bakery apart,” Chollett said. “It gives the bakery personality.”

Once the idea of a mobile bakery stuck, Chollett searched for a vintage airstream trailer. With the help from her husband, Galen, she finally found a trailer on Craigslist that perfectly suited her needs, and her son affectionately named the new addition “Bob.”

When the bakery made its debut at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market in June, Chollett was elated by all the positive response she received from customers. For her, it was an emotional experience.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so vulnerable in my life,” Chollett said. “I put a lot of love and attention into my baked goods. I’m putting it all out there for everyone to taste.”

That same love and attention seems to be paying off for her. The sweet stop’s Facebook page already has several hundred likes, and users have commented on the page to voice their approval of the treats.

“It is moist and rich,” wrote Sugar Land junior Sarah Nguyen after trying one of the salted caramel cookies. “Super delicious!”

Cookies are the shop’s main attraction, each weighing three ounces or more and made with only high-quality ingredients, Chollett said. Customers can order a “Monster,” a huge ice cream sandwich made with two cookies and a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream in the middle.

When it comes to adding new menu items, Chollett is brimming with ideas. In the coming months, customers can expect a variety of baked goods such as scones, cinnamon roll cake and bread pudding. Chollett also intends to add more vegan and gluten-free options.

Currently, the bakery is under small operation with only a three-member staff, including Chollett, her husband and son. Open-minded to the idea of expanding her business, she said she has considered opening a savory food trailer named “Betsy” in the future.

For now, Chollett said she is enjoying the adventure of running Vanilla Bean Bake Shoppe with her family, and she can now cross “be an entrepreneur” off her bucket list.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Chollett said. “As long as I continue to produce quality products and make people happy.”