WEST WARWICK — On Main Street in Arctic Village, a new business beckons passersby with the promise of delicious cakes, fresh-baked pastries, and many of the same Portuguese treats that have been enjoyed by locals for years.
“It’s been so busy,” Victoria Raposo, who opened the doors to Victoria’s Sweets and Bakery last week, said of her first few days in business. “I feel very grateful."
Located at 1236 Main Street, where Matos Bakery lived for some 16 years, Raposo’s bakery offers both familiar favorites and a variety of new treats.
Raposo had been working at Matos Bakery for around six years when she purchased the West Warwick location — Kevin Matos told WJAR that he and his brother had wanted to sell one of their three businesses so that their parents could retire — although it was only recently that she began to consider opening her own business.
A 2018 graduate of Coventry High School, Raposo attended college in Boston for a couple of years, studying on a pre-med track. She has since moved to Providence, and is now a student at the School of Nursing at Rhode Island College.
Raposo, 21, has always had a passion for the medical fields. Before this year, it had never even crossed her mind that she would one day open her own bakery.
“I always liked baking, but I never thought it would be a career,” she said late Tuesday morning, sitting on a bench in her new business as customers trickled in one by one. “Then this opportunity just kind of fell into my lap.”
In February, Raposo participated in a trend on the video-sharing app TikTok. The trend involved making breakable chocolate hearts and chocolate-covered strawberries, and Raposo was overwhelmed by the response she received after posting a photo of her own creation.
“I got an insane amount of love,” she said. “Everybody was placing orders, it was insane.”
Raposo mentioned to the owners of Matos Bakery that she was contemplating starting a side business selling some of her homemade sweets.
“I was in college, I thought I would just do it on the side,” she said, recalling her initial plan to sell cakes and other goodies online. “That was when they offered the bakery.”
At first, Raposo admitted, she thought the idea was crazy. But after discussing it with friends and family, she decided to give it a go.
“I kind of just thought, why not?” she said.
While there are some new pastries on offer, many of the items that were staples at Matos Bakery remain on Raposo’s menu — the popular Portuguese items, for example, haven’t gone anywhere. Raposo is selling custom cakes and cupcakes, as well, and plans to feature different bakery specials every weekend.
Inside a glass case, coconut macaroons and blueberry muffins and cinnamon twists are on display, ready to be enjoyed. Chocolate chip cookies sit beside apple pockets; lemon turnovers beside their blueberry counterparts.
Bunches of sunflowers and potted ferns decorate the space.
Another case holds some of Raposo’s specialty cakes and other desserts, while bread loaves fill wooden racks along the back wall.
Raposo bakes her pastries, desserts and cakes in house, but the bread she picks up daily from the original Matos Bakery location in Pawtucket.
Noting that her former employers are “like family” to her, Raposo said she knows she can still turn to the Matos any time.
“I can always call them if I ever need anything,” Raposo said of the Matos, who still own JC’s Butcher Shop on Brookside Avenue as well as their Pawtucket bakery. “They’re always there.”
Raposo spends hours on end baking, and is confident in her confectionery abilities. There’s a lot about entrepreneurship, however, that she’s learning as she goes along.
As her business grows over the coming year, Raposo said she would like to partner with other organizations, like the West Warwick and Coventry school districts, on events. She’d also like to consider selling her goods wholesale someday.
With basic coffee drinks currently being offered, Raposo added that she’d eventually like to expand her beverage program.
Raposo is excited to see what the future holds for Victoria’s Sweets and Bakery, although she still dreams of becoming a nurse. Her hope, she said, is that once her new business is established, she can step back from it to focus on her nursing career.
“I still want to work as a nurse, 100 percent,” said Raposo, who’s attending school part time while she gets the bakery up and running.
During a soft opening last Thursday, Raposo welcomed her first customers into her Main Street bakery.
Since then, business has been booming.
“I figured I’d get some support," she said, "but having support from, not only family and friends, but also the community, that’s huge.”
Victoria’s Sweets and Bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday at 1236 Main St., West Warwick.