By Ted Shockley
Owners of the Corner Bakery say Onancock’s interpretation of its meals tax takes the cake.
Fans of the popular doughnut shop say the town’s logic has a hole in it, so to speak.
Pete Smith, part of the iconic bakery’s ownership family, didn’t sugar-coat the issue.
He essentially said the town wants its bread buttered on both sides. And that its tax enforcement is a half-baked idea.
His view is the town want to increase its slice of the pie by imposing a cookie-cutter solution to a nuanced issue.
“For us, it’s just common sense,” he said.
The town collects meals taxes on foods and beverages served at one sitting — a fish dinner, a beer and a sandwich, a doughnut and coffee, and the like.
But bulk items — a whole cake, a gallon of ice cream, or any sale that would exceed normal on-premises consumption — are exempt from the meals tax.
Also exempt are “factory pre-packaged” products, like Tastykake pies, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and other sealed-in-the-package selections.
Smith said the Corner Bakery makes every item fresh daily and will be held to a different standard than larger commercial bakeries.
And even though the customer will pay the extra tax, the bakery’s owners always have tried to keep prices down.
“This is not fair to the customers,” Smith said. “We do not collect a meal tax on items that are sold in bulk and clearly not meant to be consumed in one sitting.”
Town Manager Matt Spuck, who has sent two letters to the bakery, isn’t being a cream puff about the issue.
He essentially said: That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
“We have a difference of opinion,” Spuck said. “At this time, we stand behind our interpretation of the town ordinance, which aligns with other towns on the Shore in regard to bakeries.”
He added: “We respect their business and value them.”
The disagreement apparently won’t be glazed over.
The icing on the cake might be legal action — Smith said the town has threatened a legal filing against the bakery.
He said the bakery has consulted with its attorney and “we plan on fighting this in any and every possible way.”
During the issue, Smith said the overwhelming social media support of the Corner Bakery has been sweet.
“We really appreciate all of it,” he said.
As of Wednesday night, the Corner Bakery’s Facebook post scored over 75 comments, all in support. Readers are also encouraged to send emails to the members of the Onancock Town Council to express their views.