(Britin here.) We haven't kept up with the blog as much as we would have liked this season, but the lack of time to dedicate to this forum was thankfully filled with an incredible year of growth for AGB. Opening our shop on Quail St. has widened our audience significantly, especially due to Nick's ability to transform simple, fresh (local) ingredients into incredible lunch fare. Everyone who has visited the shop has been very welcoming and enthusiastic, for which we couldn't be more grateful. We've gotten to know a lot of regulars this year - one of my personal favorite aspects of our "job" (it's hard to call it that- we are both really enjoying living the dream).
We've also made much deeper connections with our neighboring farmers and other small food-producing suppliers (Farmer Jon's Produce, Mountain Winds Maple Farm, North Country Farms Flour, Bulich Mushroom Farm, Capital District Community Gardens, Our Daily Eats, Meadowbrook Dairy, among others); groups dedicated to promoting Real Local Food like the Chef's Consortium of the Hudson Valley, From Scratch Club and the Saturday Delmar Farmers Market; local food bloggers Steve Barnes (Table Hopping), Daniel B. over at Fussy Litte Blog, Greg & Mary at All Over Albany, and Christina D. at FSC. It has truly been an incredible year for us and it was all capped off with Nick being chosen as a Rising Star Chef with the Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts Festival (happening this weekend)! Major Woot!
When we began renting our kitchen on Quail in November 2010, it was for the sole purpose of executing our first Community Supported Bakery season. We didn't intend to open up for retail, but when our landlord (Mark Guido of Guido's Frozen Desserts) said, "You're paying all of the overhead, the lights are on - why not open?", we started thinking seriously about it. Nick and I have worked in restaurants since we were both 15 years old, and met while working in one in '03. Virtually since that day, we started talking about what we would do if we opened our own place. Guido's suggestion rang in our heads all that winter and we took the plunge in April of this year.
Most people in the Pine Hills neighborhood & surrounding Albany have welcomed us with open arms. Business owners, families, neighborhood associations, organizers, beat cops - all of our customers have all been wonderful to get to know and we are grateful for the opportunty to do so. We have participated in every way we can to be good neighbors, highlight the great aspects of the neighborhood and to be advocates for changing what needs improvement. Unfortunately, limited parking, street trash, vandalism and sporadic violence plague the Education District. Although some issues are being addressed, we reluctantly accept that meaningful change is likely to be a long time coming.
By late October, the reality started to sink in that our location on Quail St. just isn't the ideal venue for what we do, and we began entertaining the thought of moving the shop. One major reason is that our rent increased in December. We knew it would happen, we just didn't realize by how much and there's only so much we can produce fresh in our tiny kitchen in order to support the extra overhead. Gatherer's Granola has continued to rent from us three days per week, and has been putting out an enormous amount of granola to local farmers markets and co-ops. They are growing, too, and are looking for a larger production space.
|The retail area at 540 Delaware Ave., still small, but bigger than we have now!|
We'll be open 5 days per week, add more lunch and breakfast options, hire two staff members, increase our loaf varieties & share programs, and hopefully grow some of our own produce in a kitchen garden out back. We'll continue to use primarily local suppliers, prepare everything fresh, maintain our low-waste practices and hopefully be seeing more of you! We hope making this move will bring positive, measured growth for our bakery and our family - and we couldn't be more excited!!
More detailed information will follow as we progress. We hope you share our enthusiasm!
Britin & Nick