Nicole studied pastry, and Sean wanted to be a chef.
After graduating, getting married, having a daughter and working in several industries, Nicole said, it was now or never.
In February, the couple opened The Copper Crust Co. at Central Market in York. The café specializes in European pastries, confections and catering.
"We knew this was what we wanted to do," Nicole said.
I stopped by on a Thursday morning to chat with Nicole and to buy some food to go. I ordered The Happy Apple - ham, sharp cheddar cheese, spinach, apple and Dijon - on an everything bagel and a coffee.
We sat at a small round table with a shiny-brown finish. Sparsely placed lighting fixtures shined on three cases filled with bagels, croissants, Danishes, sour-cherry tarts and chocolate-ganache cake. Cream-colored brick walls and large glass windows separated the café from the bustling market.
After moving to York County in 2010, the couple didn't see any businesses like the one they envisioned. They wanted to offer Danishes and desserts made with wholesome ingredients and by using classic techniques. They also hoped to grow in catering.
The Austins chose to open their business at Central Market because they like its nostalgia.
Nicole said they start their day at 4 a.m. and that everything is made fresh. The business donates whatever it doesn't sell to Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen in York.
"It's constant," she said. "Something is always in production."
It takes her three days to prepare the dough used for croissants. She mixes it, lets it rest and rolls it out three times before baking it. She said the Copper Crust uses real butter, compared with bakeries that might use hydrogenated oils. She said she would never serve something made from a mix.
"It doesn't complete me," Nicole said. "It's like plagiarism."
She said the café's products also differ from other baked goods in appearance - artisan breads and pastries have a copper tint, with blistered, flaky crusts versus American baked goods, which have a blonde color.
"A copper crust is where the flavor is," Nicole said. "It's in the caramelization of the sugar.
She said Paris buns - made with French pastry dough and pecans throughout - are one of the café's most popular items.
Nicole said she and Sean work on catering when the café isn't open, and that the business fills both of their passions.
She said running the business is like a marriage in itself.
"Thank God we're in love, and we love what we do," Nicole said.
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 717-771-2101, email@example.com, @leighzaleski.
The Copper Crust Co.
LOCATION: Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St., York
CUISINE: Pastry café/catering
LEIGH'S PICK: The Happy Apple and coffee ($9.25)
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $1 to $9.95
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: No
DETAILS: Call 717-650-6235 or visit www.thecoppercrust.com