More than Just Cookies: McKinley’s Nourished a Community
There’s a worship song called “Oceans/Where Feet May Fail” performed by Hillsong United running through my mind. There’s a line that says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger.” It refers to having complete trust in the Lord and his plan, being willing to risk it all to do what God calls you to do.
As I listened to this song today, it reminded me of the sweet conversation I had with Stacey Rumfelt, owner of McKinley’s Fine Bakery and Cafe, which closes its doors this month. In opening McKinley’s, Stacey took a leap of faith and landed with a deeper understanding of who God is and how He uses us to fulfill His purpose. This is the story of her journey of owning a business that nourished, in more ways than one, our community.
The loss of McKinley’s is heartbreaking to a lot of us. McKinley’s was not just a place to indulge in some of the finest bakery and food choices Fort Worth has to offer, it was a respite in the middle of a hectic schedule, a familiar place to meet with friends, or an office space with culinary benefits!
As I sat down with Stacey, I could sense her sadness and deep connection to the beauty of what McKinley’s has become over the past 20 years. Over those two decades, they’ve earned the love and loyalty of thousands of patrons. As she spoke, there was one thing Stacey was adamant about: the journey of McKinley’s was never about her. It was about God and His purpose for her life. “I have always told people… that the Lord is the one who pushed me in this direction… I’ve always had a really independent streak. God basically said: ‘Where can I put you to be the most humbled so that you can learn dependence on Me?’ It’s life lessons, continually. It’s this beautiful tapestry He is weaving, but I can only see a small part of it… It’s not my business to know the big picture because it’s not about me.”
There’s been an outpouring of love and appreciation since the closing was announced. “This was the place where people spent time with their children as their children were growing up. It was their ‘special place.’ I’ve had people share with me that, to them, this place has meant a place of comfort when they’ve gone through traumatic times.”
Stacey told me about a long-time customer who would not leave the house after her daughter died. Her family begged her to get out, so she started coming to McKinley’s by herself and just sitting, enjoying its calming environment. Another customer, when he was interviewed by a local publication about what he missed most during quarantine, said, “Iced tea moments with my wife at McKinley’s Bakery & Cafe, where I recharge my batteries.” Incredible, isn’t it? Stacey does not take these stories and the love behind them for granted.
When I asked what she would miss most, she paused and then said, “I LOVE when people come here and do their Bible studies, or with their knitting groups [or sit] sketching, writing… I love it when people just come and make themselves at home. It makes me feel so happy.”
Stacey acknowledges that she couldn’t have made McKinley’s work without help. “I will also miss working with my team. We have been fortunate in that a lot of our staff stayed around for a long time… It takes a lot of people and a really good team to have a successful day. It’s so much fun… We love it when people are happy. If there’s anything that we can do that makes them happy, it makes our day.”
Although she loves McKinley’s, Stacey’s number one priority is her family, and she’s looking forward to focusing on her children, husband, and household. The next few months will be about re-prioritizing her life, and then she’ll see where the Lord tells her to go next. “If God’s hand is not on it, I don’t want to do it. He’s done a good thing.”
As we concluded our time together, I asked Stacey about all the customers who graced McKinley’s doors over the years. She stated, “Without a doubt, it’s been an enormous privilege that they put up with us and allowed us to grow and become better versions of ourselves over the years. This community didn’t have to allow that. There’s a lot of very wonderful options available to us. That is humbling, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do this for as long as we’ve done it.”
What will I miss, you might be asking? Well, let’s see… all of the tiny muffins, all of the thumbprint cookies, all of the salads, soups… I might be a super fan!
Thank you to everyone in the McKinley’s family. We will miss you, but we wish you all the best in this next chapter!
Jennifer Kieta is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston. She graduated from Texas Tech University and has lived in Fort Worth since 1996. After marrying her husband, Brian in 1998, Jennifer worked as a Child Life Specialist at Cook Children’s Medical Center for 9 years before becoming a full-time mom to her two daughters. Her passion for helping people in healthcare transitioned into the fitness world in 2014. In December of 2017, Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her journey through a double-mastectomy. As a fitness instructor and as the Associate Publisher of Tanglewood Moms and Madeworthy, Jennifer helps people embrace every day and take care of themselves one day at a time.
I can hardly see the screen after reading that beautiful tribute.
We are so proud of her. She is epitome if the perfect granddaughtet God gave us.
Thank you for those beautiful words
If God’s hand is not on it, I don’t want to do it.
It’s not my business to know the big picture. It’s not about me.
Those sentences stopped me in my tracks. What an awesome witness for God’s story.