Breakfast For Our Neighbors
August 31, 2014
We are doing all that we can think of doing, within the limits imposed by our young age and modest experience, to make Bread Furst a place with which the neighborhood can be pleased. We have been embraced far more quickly and tightly than I expected.
Since we opened in May, customers have said to me a thousand times: “Welcome back to the neighborhood.”
“I was the first in line at Marvelous Market.” (My first bakery that used to be up the street from Bread Furst.)
“This is just what our neighborhood wanted.”
“This is such an addition.”
All that is very gratifying and it is really wonderful to see as we do the same customers all the time. But some things have not turned out quite as I expected. As welcomed as we have been, we still have a lot of work to do.
I was pretty confident before we opened that the neighborhood would want breakfast foods and we focused on breakfast in our planning. When we opened we offered biscuits and scones, muffins, croissants, Danish, and so on.
Having spent many cold mornings in this space during the months of construction, I had seen the long lines of customers walking down Connecticut Avenue from Nebraska to Van Ness and the Metro stop. I had luxuriated in the closing of the sidewalk on the east side of the street for a construction that would last a year. I looked forward to the hundreds of people walking by, many of them hungry for our breakfast treats.
I was wrong.
People don’t stop. Perhaps you don’t want to board the Metro where eating is prohibited with food in your hands. Perhaps you don’t want to carry food from Bread Furst to your offices downtown. So relatively few of you stop.
But we make good breakfast foods better than most one can get downtown.
So on Tuesday we’ll try to make those foods more accessible. We will begin Break Furst, breakfast on the sidewalk, the smart idea of my son Francois. We’ll have a long table just in front of the store and on it will be six breakfast foods including a breakfast banh mi.
Purchases will be in cash only, even dollars and no coins required, and you will be able to slap your money on the table and take a breakfast treat practically without breaking stride.
So we’ll see if that makes breakfast more convenient for our neighbors in a rush.
We have tried to be neighborly in other ways more fully under our control and we have had a lot of help from the neighborhood.
Marjorie Share lives up the block and adopted us months before we opened. She has as much as anyone added to the aesthetic of Bread Furst.
I wrote several months ago about neighbor Dipa Mehta’s fight to help us get our gas turned on. (“Dipa Did It,” April 20, 2014) That was the beginning of her career at Bread Furst.
Dipa is Bread Furst’s advisor, critic, and emissary to the world who manages to get done by skill and persistence tasks, like managing the process to get a liquor license, something that would have taken us – who knows how long to complete?
She even allows her children from time to time to help behind the counter.
I insisted several months ago on paying Dipa for the time she devotes to Bread Furst and so she now bills us at an hourly rate 4.5 percent of what her rate was at her former law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton.
My most passionately held objective in opening Bread Furst, was to create something that would become immersed in this neighborhood and would become a contribution to it that might last. We’ve started.