Basalt stimulus package comes from new bakery’s goodies
BASALT ” Basalt received a different kind of stimulus package this winter. Instead of millions of dollars from the feds it came in the form of fried-to-order doughnuts, cream-filled eclairs and fresh-baked breads.
The Midland Baking Co. opened in December in the former Wienerstube space on Two Rivers Road. Aleece and Quinn Gallagher were undaunted by the tough economy and returned home from Seattle to open the bakery/coffee shop/restaurant. They are one of the few new businesses in the midvalley to open after the national economy tanked last fall.
“It really was scary,” acknowledged Aleece.
Drivers of their supply companies asked in disbelief why they were opening at such as dismal time. The Gallaghers shrugged off the doubts.
“We felt really good about our business plan. We’ve been in the business for a really long time,” said Quinn.
The 33-year-old Aleece, whose maiden name is Alexander, became a pastry chef after graduating from Basalt High School in 1993. Quinn, 32, got into the restaurant business after growing up in Rifle.
In the middle part of this decade, they bought the bistro and lounge where they worked in Seattle. It earned rave reviews for its food and bar. Despite that success, they yearned to return to Basalt. They kept an eye on the Basalt-area restaurant scene for about 18 months while returning to the Roaring Fork Valley to visit family.
Opportunity presented itself when the Wienerstube lease became available last fall. They sold their Seattle bistro, relocated to Basalt, rebuilt the kitchen at their new space and opened the bakery, proving that the entrepreneurial spirit still survives.
They say their establishment fills a different niche than most other eating establishments in Basalt. They provide fresh-baked goods at a sit-down restaurant in the downtown core. (West Basalt, 4 miles away, has the Upper Crust Bakery.) Aleece and another baker are in the kitchen by 4:30 a.m. daily making a variety of goodies.
“We can’t keep the eclairs in the (display) case,” Aleece said.
The fried-to-order doughnuts are also a hit. An order of six doughnuts ” doughnut holes actually ” come with vanilla mascarpone and fresh strawberry dipping sauces that are so good that some customers joke they want to just “main line” them.
Their coffee comes from a small roaster in Seattle. Their tea is from Basalt’s Two Leaves and Bud.
Keeping their prices low was an important part of their plan. All breakfast dishes are under $9 and lunch can be had for $10 or less.
“We wanted to provide a nice, relaxed place where people could have lunch without spending $50,” Quinn said.
The Gallaghers also wanted to serve people quickly. “Our whole business plan was everything in five minutes or less,” Aleece said.
Quinn said they are take “a little bit of a hit” in revenue from having lower-priced menu items, but make up for it by attracting more people through the door.
“I think the word of mouth has spread,” Aleece said.
They initially served just breakfast and lunch, but started offering dinner on Wednesday. They will rely on the same formula of quick food at reasonable prices. Small plates will go for $8 to $12. All bottles of wine will be $15.
The establishment’s hours will be 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when it’s closed.
The restaurant seats about 30 people, but has 1,500 square feet of seating space available in the warm-weather months.
“It’s a gorgeous space with such potential,” Aleece said.
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