While most of the Island sleeps, Georgia Macon is pounding butter with an old rolling pin in the kitchen at Atria in Edgartown. Butter is the crucial ingredient: She uses 100 to 120 pounds of it in the 15 blocks of dough she makes each week to construct perfectly spiral-shaped croissants. Her work is painstaking. Not only does she beat the butter with her own upper body strength, but she also assembles each croissant with 180 folds made by hand. But it’s worth it – after baking, each croissant sports a caramel-colored sheen that any pastry lover would find impossible to resist.

Hard to choose. Ray Ewing

People are definitely hungry for what Georgia offers up at Café Atria, open Thursday through Sunday mornings on a lushly landscaped patio on Upper Main Street. There you’ll find a counter laden with Georgia’s artisanal baked goods. Croissants – plain, chocolate, ham and Gruyère – are menu mainstays. There’s a croissant evoking elote, the Mexican street corn; Georgia nestles tiny kernels of sweet corn in a well of flaky dough and drizzles it with cotija cheese.

Citrus-soaked tea cake. Ray Ewing

There’s citrus-soaked teacake with a base layer of orange slices and coated overall in a crackly sugar syrup, popover-like knots baked with roasted garlic nuggets and chocolate espresso cookies. If you’re particularly lucky, you’ll be there on a day when she offers a 20-layer Russian honey cake whose lightness defies its heft.

Hungry yet? Be sure to arrive early! Croissants have sold out a half hour into the open hours of 8 to 11 a.m. Inventory is limited when the baking team is just one person, even though Georgia is working at her max capacity.

The cafe is open Thursday through Sunday mornings, 8 to 11 a.m. Ray Ewing

Café Atria came to be through one of those serendipitous tales that seem common on the Vineyard. If Georgia hadn’t left New Zealand unexpectedly, a friend wouldn’t have suggested that she might as well come to Martha’s Vineyard since she didn’t have a plan for what was next. She then spent two years working at Behind the Bookstore in Edgartown, first as a baker and then as executive chef. If Covid hadn’t hit, she would have opened a bakery in Montreal rather than return to the Island. When she realized that she wanted to bake this summer, it took only a brief exchange with Atria’s owner, Christian Thornton, who has long been one of her cheerleaders. “I texted Christian and said, ‘I want to open a bakery out of your patio this summer,’" she recalls with a warm smile. “He said ‘deal,’ and that was it. He has been generous, trusting and kind. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

Camaraderie among kitchens is one of the reasons why Georgia stays rooted on the Island after four years despite not being a beachgoer and never imagining she’d be an Island girl. “There’s a core within the transient commotion and chaos and it almost makes it more special,” she offers in describing the local restaurant community.

Ray Ewing

“The people who stay really are your people. I’ve been friends with the folks at The Covington for the whole time I’ve been here. We’re literally ‘borrow-a-cup-of-sugar’ neighbors. I’ll call once a week because I’m out of gelatin and they’ll run it up to me or they’ll call when they’re out of flour. It’s really sweet and has gotten me out of some sticky situations. There’s give and take.”

Georgia’s baking is rooted in memories of her Southern grandmother’s fry pies, made with bacon grease and with bacon bits remaining in the dough. Her grandmother died when she was 10 and since she missed her cooking, the adolescent took grandma’s Rolodex of recipes and got started.

Home cooking is far from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris, where Georgia studied pastry. She left for France on the day she graduated high school in St. Louis. Talent and ambition has taken her to pasta and meat stations at restaurants around the world. But she always gravitates back to baking.

Ray Ewing

“Dough is the most fascinating thing,” she muses with wonder. “It changes every day, depending on the humidity, the bag of flour I’m using, if my hands are hot. Every time you make it, it’s different. You’re never really great at it. You’re always learning. I like that. It’s like a relationship. It’s much more of a conversation than any other.”

When asked if Café Atria might lead to her own bricks-and-mortar location, as she’d planned in Montreal and New Zealand, Georgia shakes her head and pronounces her happiness with how things are right now. “I have all of the autonomy and it’s like playing house, playing bakery. I’m still in my twenties. I’ve got time before I do it on my own. I’m not in a hurry. I don’t feel the pressure that I used to.”

And with that, she runs back to the kitchen to fetch another tray of baked goods to feed the people lined up and in demand.

Elizabeth Bennett is a journalist and editor. She grew up nourished by baked goods from the Black Dog and anything off the menu at Popeye's Chowder Bar.