MONMOUTH — After seven years of baking bread and simmering bacon at Main Street’s Roadside Bakery & Cafe, owner Cheryl Souza is closing her doors.

Souza spent Wednesday, her last day in business, saying goodbye to customers.

“Today was really hard,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Souza, of Fayette, opened the bakery at 829 Main St. in 2005 and earned a loyal following of customers who would show up for breakfast and lunch, devouring her gluten-free bread.

“All my locals enjoy coming in to socialize,” she said. “I have my group of men that are here before me. They come in and sit at the table and solve the world’s problems.”

Souza, who has one employee, said her business has had a front-row seat to many of those problems — at least the economic ones — and they have taken a toll.

“The country’s a mess,” she said. “The state wants every penny they can get out of you.”

Souza said her state license fee has gone from $125 a year to $275. The state is now requiring her to get a food management certificate or hire someone who has one. The two-day class costs $180.

Souza says workers’ compensation and payroll taxes have kept her from hiring more people.

“It’s one thing after the other,” she said. “It’s just too much for a small business to keep trying to struggle. I don’t have any good feelings about the future. There’s not much hope there.”

Souza said other businesses are feeling the economic pressure as well. She noted the sudden closure this week of the Jameson Tavern in Freeport.

“I see all these other places going down one by one,” Souza said. “I’ve struggled through winters, but this winter was pretty bad. It’s time.”

Souza has made no decisions about her future.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
[email protected]

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