Smile Politely

Interview with Kaya Speagle, co-owner and pastry chef of Hopscotch Bakery

Matthew interviews the founder of Hopscotch Bakery and Market Kaya Speagle. He asks her about what’s on the menu right now, how business is going during the stay at home order, and what the future of Hopscotch looks like. — Alyssa Buckley, Food + Drink Editor

Kaya Tate looking down at a recently decorated cake that she is holding. Photo by Justine Bursoni.

Photo by Justine Bursoni.

Smile Politely: How did Hopscotch start out?

Kaya Speagle: We began selling pastries at the Urbana and Champaign markets.

The gray brick exterior of Hopscotch has a cursive sign of

Photo by Anna Longworth.

SP: How did you find and then decide on the current location for Hopscotch?

Speagle: We wanted an interesting space and location with a lot of potential for upgrade. Historical spaces make me giddy.

The interior of Hopscotch with patrons sipping coffee at a table by the window and a barista making coffee. The coffee bar is a light green with a glass separator that displays pastries. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

SP: What is your inspiration for the interior design and decoration of Hopscotch?

Speagle: I wanted it to feel like a cozy corner market; a place to feel relaxed.

A white wall displaying drink and coffee menus has a shelf of pink paper to-go boxes. There are three circular pendant lights. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

SP: What lessons stick with you since starting Hopscotch?

Speagle: Construction costs four times what you would expect. Also, planning only gets you so far, and lastly, always save 35% of your sales for paying taxes.

SP: How do you start your work day?

Speagle: Crank up the oven, turn on the tunes while the ovens pre heat, make a big pot of drip coffee, and start printing out orders from the night before to see what my prep schedule looks like. 

SP: How do you decide what to make each day?

Speagle: I decide based on orders and ingredient availability — or if I see something that looks really good and I want to make it. Before I sell a new baked good to customers, our staff tries it first.

A closer look at the coffee bar: displays of pastries, stacks of dishes, and coffee cups hanging on hooks on the back wall. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

SP: Is there something you’ve tried to make that didn’t turn out quite as expected?

Speagle: Well, let me tell you: meringues don’t do well in the Illinois humidity! 

SP: What’s your favorite seasonal fruit/herb to add to sweets?

Speagle: I love adding fresh thyme to anything I can get my hands on. Or elderberry flowers! Also, I hoard gooseberries and fresh figs when I can find good ones. 

SP: What are the newest additions to the Hopscotch menu?

Speagle: Wellll…new spring items coming up are our sunshine cookies! Gluten free and vegan orange cream cookies are sooo good. We are trying a lot of new items in the upcoming weeks since all this new craziness is going on.

SP: How do you come up with the names for the Hopscotch specialty drinks?

Speagle: Haha! It’s a group effort in my household. 

SP: How has the way you do business changed due to the Covid-19 stay at home order?

Speagle: We switched to curbside immediately overnight. Our staff reacted quickly, and we have been going strong ever since! 

SP: What items have you had to take off the menu since the stay at home order started?

Speagle: Our chocolate delivery was delayed. That has effected our chocolate items, obviously. We are doing way less items since people usually stop in and buy with their eyes. 

SP: How has this time affected staffing at Hopscotch?

Speagle: We still have three full time staff and one part time staff person, not including myself or Kelly. We have also had family members helping daily. In here, it’s a full-fledged family business for daily operations.

A closer look at the pastry options behind the glass display of the coffeebar at Hopscotch. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

SP: What foods and products are you currently offering?

Speagle: Right now, we’re selling cinnamon rolls, canelé, chocolate chip cookies, sandwiches, soups, a few dinner items, milk, cheese, flour, onions, and yeast. The list goes on and on. We update every day on our website

SP: What’s the most popular thing people are buying right now?

Speagle: Flour, yeast, chocolate chip cookies for nurses, and cinnamon rolls! 

SP: If people want to buy from Hopscotch right now, when, and how should they do that?

Speagle: Now! Go to to place an order for any date this week. We usually have about a 10 minute turnaround time. We are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to  2 p.m. We stop stop taking orders for the day at 1:30 p.m.

SP: What is your vision for Hopscotch going forward after this pandemic ends?

Speagle: Great question. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’ve had many sleepless nights from having my business and life turned upside-down overnight. Maybe a Hopscotch General in the future. Lots of staples that we can support our neighborhood with. We are always open to suggestions of new items to carry! 

Two metal trays of freshly baked cookies on parchment paper are layered on a baking cart. Photo from Hopscotch Bakery's facebook page.

Photo from Hopscotch Bakery’s Facebook page. 

SP: Do you have anything you want to share with the readership of Smile Politely?

Speagle: We are baking and delivering cookies to all our first responders and frontline workers! You can be a part of that by choosing to “Buy a nurse a cookie” on our curbside page! We bake the cookies, box them up, and head out for deliveries. 

Make sure to follow Hopscotch on Facebook for updates.

802 W John St
Tu – Su 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Top image by Justine Bursoni.

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