Horses and cakes may seem an unlikely combination, but for Alena Vaughn, owner of Triple Crown Bakery, the two go hand-in-hand.
“I grew up riding horses,” said the Southern California native. “I was working as a wrangler on a ranch the summer I decided to go to culinary school, so the two always go together for me.”
Vaughn carried the theme with her all the way to her bakery in downtown Franklin, where vintage horse ribbons decorate the walls.
“Someone won these ribbons at one point in time,” she said. “The older and more stained, the better.”
In horse terms, the Triple Crown is awarded to the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. In Vaughn’s terms, her bakery produces the best cookies, cakes and pastries, earning her the “Triple Crown” of baking.
“I always loved baking, but I never knew it was going to be a profession,” she said. “I couldn’t decide on a major my junior year at San Diego State, so my mom asked what I loved to do. I said cooking, and she said ‘go do it.’”
With the encouragement of her parents, Vaughn embarked on her journey at California Culinary Academy (now Le Cordon Bleu) in San Francisco, where she studied baking and pastry making. She began her career at the Ritz Carlton, then at Zov’s Bistro & Bakery in Orange County for five years as assistant pastry chef.
Vaughn decided to focus on raising her two children — Bradley, now 13, and Maisey, 10. Her husband’s job in the military caused the family to move around frequently. That changed when he retired four years ago, and the family established roots just south of her husband’s hometown of Nashville.
“Franklin was the best place for us to raise our kids,” said Vaughn.
It also turned out to be the best place for Vaughn to make her dream of opening her own bakery a reality.
“We’re not going anywhere, so now is really the right time for me to start something of my own.”
Although only open for a few months, Vaughn has received a tremendous amount of support from the community and her fellow downtown Franklin business owners.
“So many of the local business owners have stopped by to introduce themselves,” said Vaughn. “I love the customers, too. Everyone has been really excited about having a great bakery right here in downtown Franklin.”
Vaughn stays busy with commissions for events, including weddings.
“Wedding cakes are my favorite for sure. I love being a part of the most important day of someone’s life. It’s fun creating something so beautiful that symbolizes love.”
If she’s not working, Vaughn can be found spending time with her family, often going on hikes with their two German Shepherds, traveling or exploring country roads. The crew also enjoys cooking and eating together.
“Things were so crazy when I first opened that I was often too tired to cook at home,” said Vaughn. “My husband really stepped up, doing a lot of the things I used to do as a stay-at-home mom. Now that things have calmed down, I’ve returned to cooking at home more.”
Vaughn and her family still enjoy venturing outside of their own kitchen from time to time. Some of their local favorites include Puckett’s Gro., Boudreaux Brothers and McCreary’s Irish Pub. In addition to the food, Vaughn likes the small town feel, which she calls a “nice change” from the bigger cities she grew up in.
“I love how the city works as a community,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to run into people you know.”
Triple Crown Bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more, visit www.TripleCrownBakery.com, and be sure to follow them on social media, @TripleCrownBakery, for photos of their delicious goodies!