Having opened in early October 2012, the East Bristol Bakery, owned by Alex Poulter and Nikki Harold, is quickly attracting new faces as well as gaining an ever-increasing loyal customer base. We caught up with Alex to find out more about what they’re doing…
“Our story isn’t too dissimilar to many modern bakers who gave up careers in other fields in order to peruse the early mornings and the elusive perfect bake”, says Alex. After about three years of baking at home for friends and housemates, he well and truly caught the baking bug, and started to make the first steps towards professional training about a year ago. His dedication is clear: he even briefly worked with Laura of Hart’s Bakery, fitting in early morning shifts around a full time retail job, before finally quitting the latter in April to pursue his dreams.
“I met Nikki round the time I began to get the bakery bug. We were living in a large shared house together, she had a stable job in banking admin and I was doing bar work at the time”, Alex continues. “We often talked about what we’d rather be doing and we joked about opening our own shop. These conversations always seemed like unrealistic dreams, but soon after we met, Nikki left her job in admin to work in a small specialist gluten free cake company. It took a while for me to catch up, but we were both on the road to where we are now. When I returned to Bristol set on opening a bakery I knew there was no one else I’d rather work with.”
The East Bristol Bakery differs to many others in that both bakery and shop occupy the same space – intentional on Alex’s part. ” Our customers can see everything going into the oven, and they know what goes into our products. We make simple, honest, good quality food with no secrets and the space reflects that.”
“As a two person team we work together to produce a range of hand shaped bread and seasonal sweet treats, whilst serving our customers and sharing our enthusiasm for good food. I specialise in sourdough bread, and create all the loaves for the shelves – currently making between 150 and 250 loaves on my own every morning (both sourdough and traditional yeasted bread). Nikki produces all the cake and sugary goodness, with a small but increasing range of favourites to tempt anyone with a sweet tooth.”
Green issues are also on the bakery’s agenda. As well as recycling almost all of their waste, the team used reclaimed wood from the Bristol Wood Recycling Project for their counter, and use Good Energy as their power supplier.
“When we opened we were genuinely overwhelmed by the response. I always knew we were doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, but it’s always hard for new businesses to judge. At the moment I work 17 hour days, but it’s all worth it when people enjoy the food we make. Our goal was always to focus on the local community, to fit our baking around our customers and to produce food of high quality but with accessible pricing.”
“We open late into the evening so that people who work can reserve bread and pick it up on the way home and we offer a range of breads that appeal to a wide range of tastes. We create cakes to tempt anyone and we make some which are vegan, some which are dairy free, and we get gluten free cake in from a gluten free kitchen.”
So where does Alex see the business going from here? “Moving forward our goal is to maintain the quality but increase volume to suit demand. Our team has expanded already, and we plan on growing to fit demand. We see ourselves as a retail business, dealing face to face with the people who enjoy our products, but we will do wholesale with businesses that match our ethos. In the future we hope to expand our range, but only as long as quality doesn’t suffer. For now the East Bristol Bakery should be known simply for making good quality handmade bread and cake – that’s what we do.”
Visit the bakery at 112 St Mark’s Road, Easton – map below.
Find the East Bristol Bakery on the Bristol Bites Directory…