A local family’s passion for sweet treats lives on at a rustic shed-turned-shop in Cohasset.
By Laura DeSisto Photography by Kate Rogan
f you’ve lived on the South Shore during the last 40 years, chances are pretty good that you may have sampled Maggie’s Corner famous chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake was the creation of Maggie Warshaw, a Norwell mother who first started making and selling baked goods back in the ‘70s.
“My mother needed a way to pay off her father’s funeral expenses,” says Maggie’s daughter, Jenn Mekler. “But from the very first batch, her treats sold just as fast as she could make them, so she decided to keep baking even after the funeral bill was paid.”
Right from the beginning, Maggie got her two young children–Jenn and her brother Jeremy–to help her out with the baking. “My friends went home after school and had to take their dog for a walk or set the dinner table,” remembers Mekler. “My brother and I had to come home and crack eggs or roll out cookie dough.”
Mekler must have not minded these chores too much because right after graduating from Norwell High School, she officially joined the business as her mother’s partner. With Mekler driving sales and marketing, Maggie’s Corner grew exponentially. At the height of the business, their baked goods were available in more than 70 retailers all over New England.
“At that point, we were selling about 1,000 chocolate cakes and 500 dozen cookies a week,” Mekler recalls. When Maggie retired, rather than continue with the baking business on her own, Mekler turned her attention to another venture in Cohasset.
“Café Zuppa was a little bistro on Main Street in Cohasset,” she says. “In 2008, I made an agreement to buy it with a handshake and a contract scribbled on a cocktail napkin.” Mekler renamed the bistro “5 South Main” and quickly built up an enthusiastic and loyal following for her hearty soups and gruyere grilled cheese sandwiches. In warmer months, the line at lunchtime often spilled onto the sidewalk, with patrons gathered around cheerful flower pots, awaiting their turn for the lobster salad.
“The best part was that my mother came out of retirement to help me build 5 South Main,” says Mekler. “She was a ball of energy, helping to prep entrees back in the kitchen. She also brought some popular Maggie’s Corner treats out of retirement and her fans were thrilled to find them at the restaurant.”
After the successful sale of her bistro in 2018, Mekler found herself in possession of something she had never had: free time. “It was nice for a little while,” she says. “But let’s face it, my mother raised a workaholic and I felt lost without hard work. The problem was that I just didn’t know what to do next.”
One day, as Mekler walked up her long, gravel driveway, she turned her gaze upwards and asked the universe for inspiration. “Because I was looking up, I slipped into a pothole and twisted my ankle,” Mekler laughs. “But right at that very instant, I was struck by the idea of creating a little store in the woods at the edge of my driveway where I could sell my favorite things. When I told my family, my husband and my brother immediately bet me that I couldn’t build it. They lost.”
Mekler modeled the wooden building after the iconic New England sugar shacks where sap is boiled down into maple syrup and dubbed her tiny store the “Sugar Shack.” In short order, she filled it with some of her favorite items: handmade chocolates, scented candles in colorful hobnail glass, artisan chocolates, a collection of creatively-named coffees like “Ernest H. write that novel!” and baked goods, including Maggie’s Corner chocolate cake.
She branded the business “Mrs. Mekler’s Mercantile ‘’ and opened with little fanfare by posting about it on a few local community Facebook pages and planting a sign on the road in front of her home at 492 Beechwood Street in Cohasset. “I’m a big believer that if you’re really onto something, it will fly. In other words, If you build it, they will come,” she says.
And come they did. Within weeks of opening, Mekler was having to constantly restock the shelves in the Shack. She expanded the inventory to include freshly baked pies and dug out her mother’s old, colorful “sea glass” candy recipe.
“It takes a team of five people about six hours to make our sea glass candy,” she says. “And you can only make it on dry, cold days so we have to plan ahead. If we get a few solid days in during the winter, we can usually make enough to get us through the summer months.”
Not surprisingly, Mekler has been cooking up interesting ways to grow the business, including creating custom grazing boards filled with an assortment of delectable treats, and picking up a new set of wheels. “I’ve decided it’s time to take this show on the road,” she says. With the help of her father, a lifelong mechanic, Mekler has been restoring a 1961 Grumman Kurbside truck, which is reminiscent of an older Airstream.
“I’ve named her Greta Van Der Vroom,” says Mekler. “The idea is to make Greta into a sort of mobile general store with antique cabinets inside. Customers will step into the back and work their way to the front where they can make their purchases. I’ll take Greta to farmer’s markets and, upon request, to businesses so that employees can shop in the parking lot on their lunch hour.” Going mobile with the Mercantile will also allow Mekler to further expand her offerings.
“I now have a great excuse to travel the world and bring back some great finds to share with my customers,” she laughs. “Rusted garden gates from Savannah, old farm tables from Ireland. Basically anything I love and that I think others will appreciate.”
The expansion will also give Mekler the opportunity to showcase products from other female, family-owned businesses, which she notes is a wonderful way to honor her mother Maggie, who sadly passed just days before last Christmas.
“The Mercantile is a continuation of my mother’s legacy,” notes Mekler. “Whenever I restock the Sugar Shack with Maggie’s famous chocolate cake, it’s a chance to remember my mother and the impact she made on me and so many others. She taught me the value of hard work, how to be an independent woman and the magic of spreading love through food made with your heart and soul.”
Mrs. Mekler’s Mercantile
at the Sugar Shack
492 Beechwood St., Cohasset,
or shop online at