BASALT - The abrupt closing of a popular bakery and restaurant in Basalt at the beginning of November ended up producing a silver lining for four former employees and some other businesses.
Midland Baking Co.'s last day of business was Halloween. A sign saying, "Closed (For Good)," is taped to the door at 305 Gold Rivers Court. The couple that owned the business, Aleece Alexander Gallagher and Quinn Gallagher, put the operation and lease on the market in August but were unable to find a buyer while they remained in operation, said Bennett Bramson, the listing broker for the space. Midland Baking was just off Two Rivers Road, near Cuvee restaurant.
Bramson said the Gallaghers were putting in long hours while also raising a family.
"They just got to the point where it was overwhelming for them," he said.
The Gallaghers not only ran the restaurant - they baked cupcakes, breads and other goods for Whole Foods Market Roaring Fork. The Gallaghers provided Whole Foods officials with plenty of advance notice that they were bowing out as a vendor, said Amy Kasper, who heads community relations and marketing for the restaurant.
While Whole Foods is disappointed to lose the relationship with Midland Baking Co., the situation did spur "positive change" for others, Kasper said. Four bakers from Midland Baking were hired by Whole Foods for its in-house Rocky Mountain Bake House. The grocery chain also purchased the recipes for various baked goods from the Gallaghers, according to Kasper.
Aleece also trained a chef in Snowmass Village on how to bake some of her specialties, such as the Colorado Cupcake Collection. That chef will be a vendor for Whole Foods.
Whole Foods will also increase the amount of goods it buys from Louis Swiss Pastry at the Aspen Business Center and from Upper Crust Bakery in Basalt. Louis Swiss is now making an apple fritter and an apple dandy for the grocer's fresh case. In addition, the bakery is making fricasha and stollen loaf, a German bread, Kasper said.
Aleece Alexander Gallagher couldn't be reached for comment about the closure of the bakery. She was hired as the pastry chef at the Hotel Jerome, according to Bramson. The Hotel Jerome will reopen next month after an extensive remodeling.
Bramson said he doesn't believe the closing of the bakery and the planned closure of other businesses signal a demise of Basalt's downtown commercial core. Willits Town Center became the main business hub of the town when Whole Foods Market opened in mid-August. Basalt Bike and Ski moved from downtown to Willits, and Bristlecone Mountain Sports is moving from its home near downtown to Willits.
"I think we've managed to maintain a real sense of vitality downtown," Bramson said. There has always been a transitional nature to the downtown, with frequent turnover in some spots.
The price for doing business at Willits Town Center is significantly higher than it is downtown. Current rent for open commercial spaces downtown ranges from $20 to $28 per square foot, Bramson said. Prime spaces in Willits Town Center go for about $40 per square foot, he said.