Last week I wrote about my years long search for a bakery space and my dream of a neighborhood bakery in the Fountain District. Writing stories is the best way I know to imagine the future. Not stories in numbers, not projected profit and loss or build-out budgets, though those are useful and necessary, but word stories. Here is a story of a walkable neighborhood bakery. On my task list for tomorrow is taking some quiet hours to write new bakery stories: a retail bakery downtown or east of the freeway; a wholesale bakery in an industrial park; a farmers market bakery that trades bicycles for trucks and sells down the I-5 corridor.
A Fountain District Bakery
It’s raining again, a steady, cold drizzle, but inside the bakery is bright and warm. The walls are the colors of iron-rich earth: ochre, sienna, umber. The knotty pine of the front counter, the tables, and shelves glows dull yellow. The floor is scarred with age. The chairs don't match, nor do the sturdy, hand-thrown clay mugs. The air smells like bread and butter and the rosemary a boy is crushing between his fingers, pinched from one of the big terracotta pots by the front door.
Behind the counter, yesterday's rye is stacked in long loaves above the slicer and scale and the wheat breads are cooling on the wood rack that half obscures the kitchen from the front. The pastries are lined up neatly behind a thick pane of glass that turns half of the front counter into a pastry case. The coffee carafe is full. At the narrow counter along the front windows, neighbors sit alone or in pairs with their coffee and morning pastry, watching the rain or the screens of their phones. Two families have claimed the long wood table, kids kneeling on the benches to reach for plates, their elbows bumping forgotten mugs of hot chocolate and each other. The line curves around the table to the door.
We two early morning bakers are taking a break, drinking coffee and eating yesterday's apple tarts, sitting on the bench against the back office wall. Back here, too, is a mix-up of new and old: new vinyl floors, ugly but easy to clean, a new compressor in the old walk-in cooler, the sturdy old mixers, and the long, battered work bench I bought last year from a closing bakery, most of the scratches sanded out and its surface gleaming from a recent oiling. Next to the bench are dough tubs with the morning’s mix, stacked high on dollies. And at the heart of the kitchen our new oven, massive and beautiful, bright steel and the clear glass not yet clouded by smoke.
We finish our breakfast just as the oven timer goes off. That’s one more batch of tarts for the hoard out front. While the dough rises, we pack up the morning’s orders on the two cargo bikes parked by the back rollup door, trade our sneakers for boots, layer up in wool and rain gear and ride out on morning deliveries.
Owner | Baker