Carrot Tree History
The story of Carrot Tree is not quite as old as some stories in the Historic Triangle. In 1984, challenged by a restaurant manager to produce a better carrot cake, Debi did so; by calling her grandmother at midnight for the family recipe and shopping and baking till 3 am! She burned up a few home ovens before building her first commercial bakery—-in her home garage! That was 1990. In 1995, she opened Carrot Tree Kitchens on Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg’s only scratch bakery in years. Café operations evolved over time. We opened the Cole Digges House in Historic Yorktown in 2003. Every day, every thing Debi does, she does fresh from scratch. She is one of those few restaurant owners for whom food remains a love, not a business. We are pleased you have become a part of the continuing history of Carrot Tree and the Historic Triangle. To answer your most asked question: Why the name Carrot Tree? She’s famous for Carrot Cake and Debi and Glenn were married under the Great Oak Tree of Basset Hall in Colonial Williamsburg. The very same tree Rockefeller sat under to plan the restoration, a tree thought to be over 400 years old. When time came to name Debi’s business, several ideas were bandied about; ‘Great Oak Bakery’, ‘Oak Tree Bakery’, “White Oak Bakery’, etc. Then Deb’s aunt said, “Too bad there isn’t a carrot tree!” And so it is that we’ve been Carrot Tree ever since.
Cole Digges built this house about 1720. He was a son of the area’s most successful tobacco grower and chose to enter the merchant trade. Cole purchased the property in 1713 because it included wharves and warehouses at the foot of Read St. He did quite well. In choosing to present this house as a restaurant, the National Park Service requested a low impact operation. The desire to preserve the historic integrity of the house precludes commercial dishwashing and high heat sources. Future plans call for the building of a separate kitchen to allow for expanded, traditional restaurant operations. In the meantime, please enjoy what the Cole Digges house and Carrot Tree have to offer.