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Posted: April 29, 2009 12:30 a.m.

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Taking chances

Photo by Michelle Kim/

Entrepreneur: Linda Skrobot and her husband own and operate Town Center Breads bakery off the Covington square as well as Town Center Breads & Coffee in Clark's Grove.

Town Center Breads Coffeehouse co-owner and manager Linda Skrobot took an enormous leap of faith when she agreed to support her husband Charlie's decision to leave the corporate world to open a bakery in 2003.

"I cried," she admits, laughing now at the memory. "I knew it would bring huge changes in our life. I liked my home. I liked my life the way it was. I knew it was going to completely change everything. It was the unknown."

And change it did. The Skrobots had discussed the idea before, said Linda, but Charlie decided to wait so that he could provide his family a stable life while their children were growing. But once their two sons, Evan and Drew, were adults, "It was my turn to do something I wasn't comfortable with," Linda said.

They took the plunge, moving back to Georgia, where they had fond memories of raising their sons. The Skrobots were looking for a town with an active square, and when they visited Covington, they fell in love with it.

In September 2003, they opened the Town Center Breads bakery and moved into a 600 square-foot apartment above the bakery. Charlie would get up long before the sun to prepare for a day in the bakery and Linda worked at the Estée Lauder counter in the Belk department store.

Then 2006, the coffeehouse in Clark's Grove became available. The couple had their eye on the Clark's Grove neighborhood for some time and felt that having a coffeehouse would be a good match for a bakery, so Linda again took the plunge and quit her job at Belk to run the coffee shop.

Although she was initially apprehensive, she now says she values being able to be her own boss.

"Probably what attached me to the idea, finally, was I wouldn't have to work for someone else. I world work for myself and for the family," she said.

But Linda is no stranger to facing the unknown. As a Jehovah's Witness, she's been going door to door since she was a young girl growing up in Ohio.

"Every door you knock at you don't know what they're going to say, how they're going to react, what questions they're going to ask," she said, describing her education efforts as an explanation of the Bible more than a conversion effort. Most people don't become Jehovah's Witnesses, she explained.

Being a Witness compliments her role running the coffee shop in many ways. People sometimes recognize her from the coffee shop when she knocks on their door, and vice versa.

"That's a very people oriented work, as this is," she said. "You learn to listen to people, what they want, what they need. I think that's what makes a successful business. You can't do everything everybody wants."

She said they try to provide their customers with a unique Covington experience by providing food, drinks and an atmosphere that people can't pick up at any other place.

"That's what I love about this business," she said. "People walk in here and they're almost grumpy. They sit down and take two or three bites, or two or three sips, and you can just hear the whole tenor of their voice change, because they're relaxing... We make people happy, and we like that."

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