A mainstay of Historic Downtown Northport will permanently close at the end of this month as Mary Cesar, the owner and operator of Mary's Cakes & Pastries, retires from her bakery and moves to New Mexico.

Cesar shared the news in posts on her social media pages Tuesday morning, where she said the bakery behind Billy's Sports Grill will offer its holiday menu for three more weeks before closing for good on December 31st.

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Cesar told the Thread that she first opened her bakery in July 2006 and since then has created between 20 and 30 cakes every week for 50 weeks each year -- somewhere around 20,000 cakes, by her math, in addition to a similarly mind-boggling number of decorated cookies, macaroons, pies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, cheese straws and much more.

Now, at 63, Cesar said she's ready to hang up her apron and move to New Mexico with her husband Mike, where she will continue to bake and sell treats but on a significantly smaller scale.

"I just had to ask myself 'How long do you want to keep doing this?'" Cesar said. "Until you can't move around the shop anymore? Because baking is actually a really physical job and I've loved doing it, I've loved every second of it, but I'm tired and we've built a brand here. I knew we couldn't go backward or scale down or get smaller and go back to being this little mom-and-pop place."

Cesar said other than her business, she has no real ties to Alabama and looks forward to settling down in New Mexico, where she has fallen in love with the warm, sandy mountainscapes of the American West.

Her career in Northport has been a storied one, full of triumphs and struggles, including a highly publicized but short-lived and ultimately amicable trademark 'battle' with the University of Alabama in 2012 over her use of their Script 'A' on cookies and cakes -- not to mention the universal difficulties small business owners have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been a really great run, and what's made it so wonderful is not the baking of the cakes," Cesar said. "It was being a part of peoples' celebrations. I have gotten to know so many people, have gotten support from so many people and I couldn't have done any of this without them. I'm going to miss all of that dearly."

Cesar said after she settles down in the Land of Enchantment, she plans to figure out a mail-order system so that people who still want a plate of her cookies at their next gathering don't have to go without.

Until then, patrons have until the end of the year to head to the shop in person one last time.

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