Sweating for sweets: Paradox Bakery comes to Glass Building

Amidst construction work, unopened equipment boxes, stacked furniture, the smell of fresh paint, and general chaos, a chocolate layer cake sits temptingly on a high table covered with a dusting of sawdust. Paradox Pastry owner Jenny Peterson, her hands stained with paint, hopes there will be many more such tempting treats on display before the month is out. Work on her location in the Glass Building, right next to the Bluegrass Grill & Bakery, began a few months ago, and the high-ceilinged, light-filled space has a industrial cathedral feel to it. The cake was sinfully good, too.

But there is a paradox.

In addition to being a graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, where she worked in one of the city's most well-known boulangerie-patisseries, Peterson is one of Charlottesville's most popular personal trainers.  In 2008, C-ville Weekly readers voted her the best in that category, and the contradiction between helping people shed pounds while creating treats that serve to pack them on is not lost on her. Hence the bakery's name. In Peterson's mind, however, there's no reason why you "can't have your cake and eat it too," enjoying both the runner's high and the sweet tooth's.

"Why have cake if you can't eat it?" she says. "Plus, I can also help you work it off."

The store was a long time in the making, too. For several years, Peterson ran her bakery business out of her basement while she worked at ACAC as a trainer, slowly adding equipment and building a client base. She made pastries and cakes for the Boar's Head Inn, for the former wine bar Enoteca, and other places. Paradox will serve cakes, pies, tarts, croissants, cookies, as well and soups, salads, and sandwiches. Plenty of good coffee, too. And she also plans to bring beer and wine into the mix, and stay open until 10pm.

The paradox inherent in Peterson's career choices could also make the place unique. A confessed sports fanatic, she has installed a wide-screen TV for catching the latest games, and she promises there will be a high-energy feel to the shop. Indeed, the open kitchen is in the center of the bakery, and one can already imagine rowdy sports fans, dainty tart eaters, and cappuccino sippers all being served by Peterson's energetic staff.

"This is not going to be your grandma's bakery," she promises.