Give this former schoolteacher an “A” for his effort to refashion himself as The Muffin Man in this far-western Virginia town.
by Bakery Boy
I give Muffin Man Bakery an honorable mention here mainly because of owner Dean McGraw’s enthusiasm for the role. A longtime educator who taught for 17 years in Abingdon, Virginia schools, Dean took early retirement to be more involved at his church and then, as he says, “sort of backed into this bakery thing.”
“I was already volunteering as a cook on Wednesday nights at a Presbyterian church based at King’s College over in Bristol, Tennessee,” Dean says. “After retiring from teaching I became the food services director there. I started making muffins and really liked that part best, so I opened a little storefront on downtown Abingdon’s Main Street.
Abingdon is home to the famous Barter Theatre, the Southern-style Martha Washington Inn, the bicycle-friendly Virginia Creeper Trail, and other attractions, all of which can build a visitor’s appetite for good muffins. Customers also find doll clothes and greeting cards for sale, handcrafted by Dean’s wife Janet, who painted the place’s cute muffin man logo too.
The muffin variety is rather limited compared to other muffin-intensive bakeries, but Dean does a fine job of assuring they are fresh, moist, and chock-full of whatever ingredients he’s working with on any given day. Blueberry, Mixed Berry, Apricot, and Almond Muffins are favorites he keeps in heavy rotation. He also makes Sausage Ball Muffins, an oddity that started during his church-kitchen period and remains on the menu due to popular demand locally.
“I do this because I love it,” says Dean, who was sitting reading a novel the quiet summer day Bakery Boy dropped in near closing time to buy his dwindling supply of muffins as fortification for a pending backpacking hike on the nearby Appalachian Trail. “I don’t do this to make a lot of money, just to make good muffins and to make people happy.”
LOCATION 284 West Main Street, Abingdon, VA 24210. From I-81 Exit 17 go north on Cummings Street, turn left on Main, go two blocks and see it on the left.
HOURS Mon-Sat 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; the website has the hours wrong, but an update is expected whenever Dean’s tech-savvy daughter gets around to it.
INFO www.muffinmanbakery.com or 276-619-0037