It's (still) the bread

Rosemont builds a bigger bakery
By LEISCHEN STELTER  |  August 18, 2010

STIFF COMPETITION Rosemont’s standout breads.

Just about the time you're calculating how many more beers you can suck down before last call, Scott Anderson is waking up. As the co-owner and head baker for all three Rosemont Market & Bakery locations, Anderson — and his team of five — gets up at midnight to start work.

While the schedule may be unfathomable to most of us, Anderson knows it's the bread that keeps people coming back. But producing enough of it for all three stores has been tough. "The way we're doing it now, we're covering our bases, but barely," Anderson admits. "We're really crunched for space back there to do things properly."

In September, that will change. Rosemont is expanding its bakery by opening a new retail store just across the street from its non-peninsula location, at the corner of Brighton Avenue and Colonial Road. The current (soon-to-be former) retail location will be dedicated to the bakery, doubling the size of its existing work area.

And the addition might be just in time. Not long after Rosemont's expansion is slated to be complete, yet another chain, "natural" grocery store is expected to open in Portland. Rumor has it that Trader Joe's will open sometime in October or November at the former Wild Oats location on Marginal Way. Competition from Trader Joe's, coupled with the ongoing popularity of Whole Foods, cannot be discounted. But the impact of such grocers on Rosemont's business is hard to determine — Anderson calls Trader Joe's "a wild card" for the company.

In the face of increased competition, neither Anderson, nor his business partner, John Naylor, plan to make any drastic changes to the business. "We're going to continue making good stuff, at a fair price, in a neighborhood location, under local ownership," Anderson says. "But it puzzles me why people would prefer Whole Foods and Trader Joe's over a locally owned business."

With the additional space from its expansion, Rosemont might even be able to flex more muscles of its own. It will be able to better stock its own stores with the stuff that "keeps customers coming back." And more space for increased bread production means the company has the potential to take on more wholesale accounts. Right now it only sells its breads to a few places, such as Aurora Provisions, the Salt Exchange, and Harbor Fish Market. Being able to make more bread and have more outlets to sell it certainly couldn't hurt business.

The renovation will also allow the store to add a few new features to its Brighton Avenue location: a fish and seafood counter (in partnership with Harbor Fish), as well as a dedicated and expanded meat counter.

Both owners were well versed in the challenges facing a small grocer before they opened Rosemont in 2004. The two worked together for nine years at the former Portland Greengrocer, which once lived down on Commercial Street. There they had similar roles: Anderson as baker and food preparer and Naylor co-managing store operations. While that experience transferred directly to their operations at Rosemont, their goals for Rosemont have always been a little different: to produce a larger quantity of baked goods and prepared foods. They've also managed to reach more people by opening a second store in Yarmouth in 2007, followed by taking over the former Fat Baxter's on Munjoy Hill in late 2009.

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