The Bakery is nestled between King Nail Spa and Papa John’s at Collegedale’s Four Corners. The business, which has been open since June 2021, boasts an array of plant-based baked goods, including cinnamon rolls, brownies, breads, cheesecakes and muffins.
Dante Santana, owner of The Bakery, has been involved with bakeries for many years, starting his first business endeavors in Puerto Rico. He went on to run a bakery in Cleveland, Tennessee, for 14 years before moving to the Collegedale area.
Santana learned to bake while in Puerto Rico and continues to be involved in the business.
“I hired a baker to teach me baking because I couldn’t attend a school as I was taking care of the business,” Santana said. “ He was with me for about a year. He was a teacher for a culinary school for years, and he taught me a lot.”
Santana and his wife, Miguelina, moved to Chattanooga for about five years and then closer to Collegedale as their daughters were attending Southern.
The couple was celebrating their anniversary on December 31, 2020, when they noticed that the preexisting bakery at Four Corners would soon be closing. Miguelina Santana had been urging her husband to look into that commercial space for a while, and the couple was thrilled to see God working out the details.
“God has been good. We love [that] we did it. And every time we prayed, something happened,” Santana said. “And we learned that the main thing is business; [ministeries] need business to be successful. Yes, you can do the mission, but you need money.”
According to Santana, he was initially worried about the reception the plant-based bakery would receive, based on past experiences. However, the couple said creating healthy options is important to them.
“Every time I had been feeling like, ‘Okay, is it [going] to work or not [going to?]’ Boom, something happens. I say, ‘I need to work with my faith,’” Santana said.
When Miguelina Santana was finishing her Master’s of Social Work degree at Southern, she visited the Dominican Republic and discovered a need for many things, including healthcare for children. The Santanas are currently helping Ceferina Guzmán through nursing school and her son, Joshue Taveras, through medical school. Both attend Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. Guzmán and Taveras hope to someday establish a clinic and provide the healthcare needed in the Dominican Republic.
“This young man that is going to college; he is going to medical school. And the plan is for him to work with the ministry,” Santana said.
According to the Santanas, they encouraged Guzmán to pursue a career as a doctor. But she enjoyed working closely with patients, an element she felt most in the nursing profession.
“[She] liked to contact those people, and that’s what she had always done,” Santana said.
In addition, the Santanas are involved in three church plants. They have also purchased 40 acres in the Dominican Republic for their ministry. Santana said he and his wife plan to build cabins — Miguelina Santana added that they hope to use the land as a youth camp.
“The main point of our ministry,” Miguelina Santana said, “is youth helping youth.”
Miguelina Santana said students and church members in the Dominican Republic still need computers, evangelistic literature and instruments, and people in the Collegedale area can help.
“We are excited; everything is happening,” Santana said.