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Closing the doors, but not the ovens

Wild Oven to convert from retail store to bakehouse

Posted: February 21, 2014 - 12:07am
Austin Tagaban turns out loaves of bread at the Wild Oven bakery on Thursday. Friday will be the last day of retail service at the bakery. The locally-owned business will focus on wholesale markets for their bread.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Austin Tagaban turns out loaves of bread at the Wild Oven bakery on Thursday. Friday will be the last day of retail service at the bakery. The locally-owned business will focus on wholesale markets for their bread.

When Wild Oven Bakehouse owner Daniel Martin opened his bakery’s doors in 2011, he aimed to do one thing: Provide the people of Juneau with bread.

As he sees it, closing his doors is going to allow him to do more of exactly that.

After Saturday, Franklin Street’s Wild Oven will go from being a retail shop to solely a bakehouse. The bread will still be baked by Martin and his crew, but instead of selling out of the shop, they’ll sell their goods around town, out of Rainbow Foods, IGA and Superbear.

“We’re going to be focusing on getting bread to customers where they already are,” Martin said. “In terms of convenience of buying bread, it’s going to be better. In a sense it’s getting back to basics, but it’s also expanding our ability to produce bread.”

Martin said he wants to get away from the management side of the business and get back to what he loves — the sourdough.

“I looked around and realized the business was getting little out of hand; I was less and less involved in breadmaking,” Martin said. “I’m simplifying and getting back to my original vision, which is baking and selling bread.”

He said some customers have had an emotional reaction to him closing the front of the shop.

“I worked so hard to make that a desirable space for people to come into,” he said. “Cedar shingles, handmade wood stuff that I spent countless hours putting together, and now here I am pulling the plug on that. I got people really emotionally attached, so some of them are a little upset.”

With the focus back on the bread rather than on the business, the Wild Oven team is going to be able to produce more than ever before, he said. Right now, the bakehouse is making about 600 loaves a week and selling a lot to downtown restaurants, like Zephyr — soon to be known as “Salt,” new owner Tracy LaBarge said — and Rockwell, which recently reopened after months of remodeling. Zephyr’s new menu is currently being developed. Saffron, the restaurant formerly known as Sprazzo, will serve Indian food when it opens in April, LaBarge said.

However, with more time, space and resources to make bread, Martin thinks Wild Oven will be able to produce and sell even more than 600 loaves per week.

“I don’t know where the limit is 700, 800 — we’ll see,” he said.

Although closing up shop is usually a sad thing, “this is a good thing, this is positive,” Martin said.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest, because it makes me happier, and happy bakers make better bread,” Martin said with a laugh.

Wild Oven Bakehouse will serve its last goodies 7:30 a.m. through 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

 

 

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