I had a chance to stop in to see Clint Cooper at the new Village Baking Company storefront and was fascinated by his excellent selection of breads and offerings. The very tiny shop is packed ear-to-ear with unusual breads that you might not normally find in the Dallas area. They are only open a few days a week, so if you decide to go, do so early as the shelves are wiped clean rather quickly.
The afternoon I dropped by, which was a Saturday, a woman popped in and demanded a bag of croissant. They had just sold the last croissant and she was none too happy, in fact I believe she said just that. The production of croissant, and other breads are increased each week to meet the demand, but the little shop that has been selling mostly retail and farmers markets is being hit with an ever increasing demand. And for good reason.
On any given day that they are open you might spot that croissant, or its equally as tasty brother, ham and cheese. These are simply amazing. The breads that remained on the shelves we still warm and soothing to the touch.
We stopped Cooper for a moment from his frenetic pace and asked a few questions.
How long have you owned Village Baking Company?
For nine years. We have primarily been wholesale selling to restaurants, hotels and grocery stores. October4 was our first week, so we have been open for a month in this location.
Tell us what you have going on at the retail store.
We are selling seasonal stuff and have a new menu coming out for the holidays. We will have another one for Christmas. We will do some real French influenced pies. We will do a pumpkin brioche, sort of keep it seasonal in flavors. For the holidays we will most likely have gift baskets.
You have grown pretty quick at the retail level, right?
We really have. So far we have grown about 86% each week. It’s pretty crazy and we don’t know what to predict. It’s been all word of mouth and Facebook. The farmers markets are all coming down so we expect to be even busier. The farmers market season is ending like right now. Coppell ended last weekend as did McKinney’s farmers market.
You carry some unusual breads. I spotted a Meyers Lemon, what else do you have today?
We do have the Meyers lemon. We have the Pain au Levain which is a specialty from the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. I went to school in San Francisco and tried to figure out how to bake that bead every day. It took me none years to finally bake this bread. It takes 48 hours to bake a Pain au Levain. It bakes at a real high temperature and the sugars caramelize real nicely.
We also have a Walnut Levain which is the same dough with about 20% toasted walnuts in it. It turns the crumb kind of purple.
What else are you offering?
We have traditional baguettes, a calamata olive bread which has a little bit of lemon zest and thyme. There’s different country style breads every week. Of course we do different croissants each week like an apple or pear.
So what is your background, how did you get into baking?
I went to Texas Tech and graduated with a finance degree. I consulted for five years and wanted to do something different and went to culinary school at San Francisco Baking Institute.
Because I didn’t want to be a chef and work all those hours. Well, at the beginning it was like that, but now it is 24/7. We started in Colleyville in a little retail shop and then sold wholesale. I have been selling wholesale for 7 years. For the past 3 years we have been at most of the farmers markets. It’s been a marketing ploy for us and a branding opportunity. People have been asking for this, so why not?
How did you choose the location?
We were across town in the design district and our lease was up. A customer called and said that the old Whole Foods bake shop just closed down. I called Whole Foods asking what they were going to do with the building, and the CFO drove up to see me the next day.
How do you move a bakery and not miss a beat?
That is tough. We did it in 8 hours. We were taking everything apart as the bread was coming out. We cooled it down and moved it here. As we put everything together we were putting bread back in 8 hours later.
When does that new menu come out?
November first [today]. We will start throwing some pies out there. There will be a retail section online where you can order whatever you need ahead of time and reserve your pies and breads.