A new crop of independently owned bakeries are quietly taking root around Atlanta; a trend that seems to defy popular notions of a tough economy and concerns over sweet-filled diets. The economy be damned, these small boutique bakeries have found a way to make it work. But the question remains: How have these budding businesses managed to make it in notoriously difficult economic times?
A focus on local, seasonal ingredients of high quality make Atlanta's modern-day baked goods more wholesome, and therefore more desirable than in years past. It was our generation that killed the Twinkie after all. Social media is also a factor, allowing new businesses to reach their target markets with increasing ease at minimal costs. Additionally, with the growing popularity of new distribution outlets such as farmers markets, start-ups are able to cultivate a following of loyal customers long before opening a physical location. "If you build it they will come" business models are old hat. These days, no one throws a party without a head count.
Here's a look at six of these new, iPad enabled, next-gen bakeries catering to Atlanta's rediscovered sweet tooth as we speak.
Opened: July 2012
Must try: Vegan banana bread whoopie pie
Price range: $-$$
Joining the ranks of nearby Dulce Vegan in Kirkwood, Dough Bakery is an all-vegan bakery in Inman Park. Sweet and savory baked goods like vegan sticky buns and jalapeño scones are on display along with muffins, cookies, cakes, and more. Substantial lunchtime fare is also available with weekly specials ranging from Cuban sandwiches to a vegan riblet hoagie. The banana bread whoopie pie is a house favorite. A layer of sweet cream between two large discs of moist banana bread leaves little to be desired, especially if you're used to eggs and butter. 100 Hurt St. 404-380-1400. www.doughbakery.com. Tues.-Fri., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Opened: June 2012
Must try: Peach sliders
Price range: $$
From its humble beginning, Revolution Doughnuts desired to create a simple, delicious doughnut made with real ingredients. Over time, owner Maria Moore Riggs garnered a loyal following by selling her baked goods at local farmers markets. With the help of a fully funded Kickstarter campaign, Riggs was able to expand into the brick-and-mortar space where Revolution Doughnuts lives today. Riggs specializes in two styles of doughnuts: yeast and cake. Yeast doughnuts are deep-fried, light, and chewy — go for the blueberry and cinnamon sugar. The cake varieties, on the other hand, are baked and dense, with several vegan options. Doughnut sliders, cinnamon sugar-coated yeast doughnut buns filled with seasonal fruit, should not be missed. 908 W. College Ave. 678-927-9920. www.revolutiondoughnuts.com. Tues.-Fri., 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Opened: August 2012
Must try: Cinnamon roll
Price range: $$
Atlanta's newest bakery to date opened in Buckhead last week. Owner Beth Castro is an avid, self-taught baker who entertained the idea of opening her own bakery for years. Also on board is veteran baker Fahra Krifkovic, who previously spent 12 years at Southern Sweets in Decatur. Named after Castro's 6-year-old daughter, Mae's serves up a grab bag of baked goods ranging from pies and cookies to croissants and savory rolls filled with cheeses or meats. The bakery's Counter Culture coffee program is a first for Buckhead, and compliments the made-from-scratch assortment of classics. The cinnamon roll is especially memorable — well-balanced and gooey in all the right places without being overly sweet. 2770 Lenox Road. 404-565-0938. www.facebook.com/maesbakeryatl. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Opened: May 2011
Must try: Sweet & Sinful cupcake (strawberry shortbread cheesecake, strawberry butter cream frosting)
Price range: $$-$$$
Before Sweet Cheats owner Shirley Hughes discovered her true calling as a baker, she was a competitive body builder — and she's got a trophy shelf on the wall to prove it. For anyone who lives outside of Cabbagetown, Sweet Cheats is the kind of place you stumble across accidentally while on your way to somewhere else. Sweet Cheats focuses on elaborately crafted cupcakes with exotic names like Southern Seduction and Passionate Kiss. Cruffles — cake pop/truffle hybrids — are also a house specialty. 692 Kirkwood Ave. 404-590-6086. www.sweetcheatsatlanta.com. Tues.-Fri., 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Opened: May 2012
Must try: Browned butter spiced cupcake
Price range: $$
This quintessential cupcake shop can be found in the heart of Oakhurst next door to Kavarna Coffee. Chief Cupcake Baker Amy Hutsell Kiefer employs tried-and-true flavor combinations like red velvet, caramel macchiato, and Dulce de Leche. The shop also stocks High Road Craft Ice Cream and homemade cookies. 707 E. Lake Drive, Decatur. 404-377-3354. www.sugarmoonbakeshop.com. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-7 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Opened: October 2011
Must try: Pain au chocolat
Price range: $$$
Little Tart Bake Shop is quite possibly the hippest little bakery in town. Co-owner Sarah O'Brien learned to bake from her grandmother and has since spent time honing her skills at two Parisian bakeries. It shares a space with Octane coffee at the Jane in Grant Park, and specializes in rustic, flaky, French-style pastries made with equal parts butter and love. Little Tart almost exclusively sources ingredients locally, working closely with a network of local farmers and vendors. The result is a flexible menu that consistently reflects when and where you are throughout Georgia's long growing season. 437 Memorial Drive. 404-348-4797. www.littletartatl.com. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
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