Denver bakeries are building cult-followings during the pandemic
A few weekends ago, customers started lining up along Colfax Avenue at 7 a.m. to try Good Bread Bake Shop’s croissants, doughnuts, kouign-amann and cruffins.
By the time Good Bread opened its hallway-sized bakery counter at 8 a.m., co-owner Oliver Finkel watched customers who had been waiting an hour or more step inside, one or two at a time, to stock up for the weekend.
“Oh, God, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to tell you,” Finkel said when he heard about their wait time. “I hope it’s worth it.”
At Good Bread and a sprinkling of other bakeries around town, the wait has become part of the excitement. Other small-scale bakers, including Bakery Four, Rebel Bread, Reunion Bread and Moxie (in Louisville) are among those commanding lines for their panettone loaves and “bread clubs.”
Baked goods still to discover
Not looking to wait in line for your carb-load? For now, these under-the-radar bakeshops are still just that. Down the street from Good Bread, you’ll find Fox Run Cafe‘s addictive breads, cakes and doughnuts. Across town, in River North, Stowaway Kitchen makes weekend crullers and cream puffs and fruit loaves. And a new Thornton-based cottage bakery, The Flour Garden, specializes in hand pies, buttermilk biscuits and scones.
According to Finkel, Denver’s response to his bakery’s goodies started slowly at first.
But as with his other Colfax Avenue businesses — Lula Rose General Store, a coffee shop, and Little Lula Rose, which sells flowers and plants — the offerings have become steady comforts for those who are home-bound during the pandemic.
“People are not holding back,” Finkel said of customers’ eating habits. “It seems like a lot of dietary restrictions and certain intolerances have disappeared all of a sudden.”
What began in March and April as a rush of home-baking staples such as sourdoughs and banana breads has morphed into a public display of indulgence. Maybe the home cooks have exhausted their repertoires, or their bread rotation just isn’t cutting it any longer.
“I don’t know; there’s just something about bakeries that people like to be the first ones in,” Finkel said of Good Bread’s following. Add to that the fact that the bakery only opens on weekends, “so that kind of concentrates customers over two days as opposed to grinding it out every day.” Plus, Finkel and partner Gabby Yezbick change their menu weekly.
Following Thanksgiving, their Sunday morning lineup included ham and gruyere croissants, candied bourbon pecan kouign-amann, an orange-anise cream and chocolate glazed cronut (croissant-doughnut) and an apple-butter stuffed and buttercream topped cruffin (croissant-muffin). Plus, there were loaves of house marble rye with caraway seeds and cornmeal.
“We just are focusing on a lot more nutrition in our products,” Finkel said, explaining how most of the items are sourdough bread-based and how their flours are fresh ground in-house each week. “I’m currently looking at about 10 different types of wheat berries,” he added.
The results are pastries and baked goods that don’t “wreck your gut so much,” according to Finkel. With all the leftover dough, he and Yezbick are starting to make pizzas regularly to add to the mix. They’re also gearing up for the last holiday push with seasonal pastries available for pre-order and pickup.
“I sometimes forget that this is still such an unorthodox time for all of it,” Finkel said. “I think we’re just going to keep going as long as we can.”
If you go: 1515 Madison St., 8 a.m to noon (or sold out) weekends, goodbreaddenver.com
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